2021 Hometown Hero Nominations

Jenna Yount – Daniel Croall – Jesse Walker:

All 3 officers responded to an unrelated service call when they heard gunshots, they ran towards gunfire and found a man covered in blood. Emergency life saving training helped the officers apply critical aid. They applied chest wound seals on his chest and back and applied pressure until EMS arrived on the scene and transported him to the hospital.

Brian Beck:

Being a second-generation fire fighter, you could say Captain Beck has fire fighting in his blood. At 12 he signed on as a junior fire fighter and later joined the Beaufort fire Department in 2004 at the age of 18. Captain Beck Has a deep appreciation and understanding of his community needs and has had a large impact on the youth in his community by volunteer coaching and officiating many local sports teams.

Danielle Lawrence:

Master Police Officer Danielle Lawrence was a sworn law enforcement officer for City of Newport News and Town of Smithfield, Virginia prior to joining the Morehead City Police Department in 2007. She currently serves as a school resources officer at Morehead Primary School, acting as a role model, mentor, and ambassador for the department to area youth. Officer Lawrence also heads up the department’s Special Olympics program and is responsible for the torch run and fundraising efforts. Due to her efforts the department has been able to contribute substantially to Special Olympics of NC.

Terry Martin:

Terry Martin a longtime member of the Hendersonville Fire Department is being celebrated as he enters retirement. He joined the fire department in 1985 as the city’s first African American firefighter.

Lesley Kirkman:

Sergeant Kirkman was instrumental in ensuring the Durham Police Academy was able to continue through the COVID 19 pandemic. The results of her effort are illustrated by the fact that they were able to maintain training with relatively little issues. She handled the challenging task with extreme care, intelligence, and ingenuity. She gives 110% of herself in making sure recruits come out of the academy prepared to do the job.

Rut Avila:

Officer Avila has gone above and beyond as the Hispanic Liaison officer for the City of Durham Police. She’s coordinated dozens of community engagement events which include coffee with a cop community festival, and youth engagement activities with the Durham Police Athletic League. The work she’s done in the predominantly Hispanic communities has helped break down some of the barriers between police and these communities.

Andrew Dekker:

Officer Dekker has been employed with the High Point police since 2007. He is assigned to the traffic unit and focuses his career on saving liver through strict enforcement of North Carolina traffic laws. He is an active member of the National Guard and recently returned from a two-year deployment to Kuwait. Officer Dekker was injured during his deployment and returned to full duty in June. Not only does he serve the citizens of High Point but also the citizens of the United States.

Edward Hurley:

Officer Hurley is a phenomenal asset to the High Point Police Department and to the citizens he serves investigating anything from shoplifting to homicide. During an attempted murder case where the victim was assaulted with an object Officer Hurley took the time to investigate this till the point charges were obtained. He was able to obtain enough evidence to make the appropriate charges giving the victims family some form of closure.

Christine Bullock – Jonathan Malinowski:

Captain Malinowski and Christine Bullock are two of the individuals that make up the Rocky Mount Fire Department Logistics Division. They handle all purchases, vehicle repairs, uniform needs, and all maintenance items. This is an outstanding feat for just four employees to handle by themselves. With a true servant heart, they make the rocky Mount Fire Department thrive and continue to be recognized as Class 1 ISO rated and fully accredited fire department.

Kim Messer:

Kim Messer is a Paramedic with Nash County Emergency Services and has been for many years. Kim has a big heart and always helps others. She has assumed additional responsibilities during the COVID 19 crisis in the Nash County Training division. Also, she has been known to assist coworkers with mental health preparedness.

Christopher Pixley:

Deputy Christopher Pixley began his law enforcement career with the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office in 2017. Deputy Pixley is currently assigned to the Child Support enforcement Unit. Since Deputy Pixley’s appointment the number of Child Support papers served have increased dramatically. He is well respected by his peers and is available for any request at last minute notice outside of his normal assigned duties.

Shelby Smith:

Deputy Smith was making a routine traffic stop when in approaching the vehicle she detected the odor of marijuana. Deputy Smith asked the driver to step out of the vehicle. In doing this the driver started displaying nervous behavior. Deputy William Toney arrived on the scene to provide backup. As Deputy Smith attempted to frisk the driver a struggle emerged, and the driver removed a semi-automatic pistol. Deputy Smith was able to remove her pistol as the driver began to fire on Deputy toney, she reciprocated fire. After an intense shoot out Deputy Toney was shot four times. In this time Deputy Smith was able to radio for help, check Deputy Toney’s injuries and pull him out of on coming traffics way, and fire to stop the driver’s threat. Deputy Smiths quick actions during this traffic stop undoubtedly saved Deputy Toney’s life.

Jessica Cobb:

Jessica is a 911 Telecommunicator with several years’ experience. She is always willing to work extra shifts and support her coworkers. Jessica is very empathetic to callers and performs her duties well.

Antwan Brown:

Antwan brown is a very passionate provider, great leader, model employee, and great mentor. Mr. Brown wears many hats within the Edgecombe County EMS and performs them all at the highest level. He is a paramedic, supervisor, mentor, educator, fire chief, and much more to citizens of Edgecombe County.

Sarah Lewis:

Ms. Sarah Lewis of Edgecombe County EMS is receiving this award due to her excellence in passionate patient care, love of her job, professionalism, work ethics, and her drive for excellence. She helps with any tasks asked of her to the fullest of her potential.

Craig Garris:

Chief Craig Garris has over 31 years’ experience in law enforcement. His career has been dedicated to serving the citizens of Wilkesboro. After 11 years as a patrol officer, he was promoted to patrol Sergeant in 2001. Six years later he was promoted to Lieutenant over the Patrol division. In 2015 he was sworn in as Chief of Police. His philosophy concerning police work focuses on the service aspect of the job to provide the public with confidence that security and safety are paramount in Wilkesboro.

Belmont Police Department and Bryson Bowman of North Carolina State Highway Patrol:

An unbalanced individual arrived at Keith Hawthorne Ford Dealership brandishing a handgun in the direction of the showroom. Emergency response actions began with a call to 911 and prompt response by Belmont Police Department and other First Responders. In an attempt to defuse the incident, Ford team members deterred the upset man from entering the car dealership showroom. First arriving police officers positioned themselves in the direct line of the armed man protecting employees and customers. Their selfless actions facing a deranged gunman from entering the car dealership saved lives. In addition, their actions allowed for the Keith Hawthorne Ford team members and customers, nearly 50 people to safely escape the property.

Over a tense 20 minutes, police continued negotiating and tried reasoning with this dangerous individual who climbed into his truck. Now behind the wheel of his truck and driving toward the front showroom he opened fire with an AR-15 weapon. Under an escalating incident and facing gunfire, police officers remained in their positions in front of the dealership. As trained, these brave officers returned fire, stopped the gunman’s advance, and secured the incident. Those same officers then render first aid along with first responders who treated and transported the individual to a nearby hospital. The brave actions of these First Responders saved many lives.

Matthew Sizemore – Tom Brancaccio – Adam Burkholder & Greensboro Special Response Team:

The High Point Police Department Tactical Team was activated and responded to a barricaded subject call. The team had been briefed on the presence of a woman and two children inside the house. In efforts to protect the innocent parties inside, Officers Burkholder, Sizemore, Brancaccio, made entry into the house. Upon entry, the suspect fired multiple volleys of gunfire at the officers striking Officer Burkholder in the shoulder, Sizemore in the leg, and Brancaccio in the hand. Despite the hand wound Officer Brancaccio attempted to drag Officer Sizemore out of the residence. At this time the Greensboro Police Special Response Team arrived at the scene to relive and assist the High Point Police Officers. The three officers were pulled to safety where care was rendered. The backup immediately began to gather intelligence which eventually led to them entering the residence without hesitation. Eventually after some officers sustained injuries Officer Hopkins was able to engage the suspect, ending any further threat to the children. The suspect was taken into custody, the children were provided with medical assistance and all officers returned to safety. Because of the actions of the High Point Police, Greensboro SRT Team, Guilford County EMS, Greensboro Police Negotiations Team, and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office two innocent children are alive. These individuals acted above and beyond the call of duty at risk to their own lives when they selflessly attempted to rescue hostages in a residence while taking gunfire.

Hannah Johnson:

Senior firefighter Hannah Johnson is receiving this award due to her unending desire to serve, dedication to helping others in need, and her continuous commitment to community service. Hannah has led T-shirt sales, gun raffles, dodge-ball tournaments, as well as managed the monetary donations that lessen the blow of patients going through chemo, radiation, and surgeries. Hannah has recently developed a training program for the Greensboro Police department which will allow the police officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of someone who is experiencing a medical emergency. She is no stranger to acts of service as she has received the 2015 Will Caviness Community Service Award as well as the 2019 Firefighter of the Year award for the Professional Firefighters of Greensboro.

Craig Huffstetler:

Captain Huffstetler exemplifies professionalism and leadership in the Fire Service. Daily, he displays knowledge, skills, and abilities that many officers strive a lifetime to achieve.  He has participated in several committees within the department: Policy Review and the Fire Investigation Task Force. Craig has also been a leader in the creation and implementation of the Multi-agency Drone team consisting of members from the PD and FD, that will serve the City of Gastonia Gaston County, and potentially become a state-level resource when requested.

Zachary Hickok:

Zachary is representing B-Shift from the Gaston County Sheriff's Office Jail Division. In October 2021 Officer Hickok found an unresponsive inmate in his cell. He immediately called for backup and medical assistance. Several officers assisted providing CPR for over 15 minutes, while also administrating 2 doses of Narcan.

Hoyle Withers:

Hoyle has been serving the citizens of Gaston County for the past 50 years. He has been the driving force behind the rescue squads in the county for many years. Hoyle is a leader and compassionate about the job and it shoes each day. He is also certified as a technical rescuer through the State of North Carolina.

Shaunte Southern:

Sergeant Southern started the Gastonia Police Departments very first “Barbershop Rap Session”. The goal being to build a bridge between the African American community and law enforcement in Gastonia. The sessions that take place once a month involve the community and officers coming together to talk and educate each other in a more relaxed setting, like a conversation in a barbershop.

Christopher Lowrance:

On August 1st Retired Gaston County Police Department Sergeant Christopher Lowrance returned to Gaston County after completing a Trans-America bicycle ride that consisted of over 4200 miles. This journey raised over $50,000 for the Blue Help Foundation. Blue Help provides mental health assistance to Police Officers, training to various Law Enforcement Agencies, and provides assistance to families who have suffered the loss of a family member/LEO by suicide.

Laura Fahnestock:

After a 30 year career as Fuquay-Varina’s first female Chief of Police Laura has announced her plans to retire. In the past five years, Fuquay has seen a 50% decrease in violent crimes and a 42% reduction in property crimes. She also helped foster a unique community outreach program video series “The Other-Side” which featured conversations between officers and youth surrounding difficult topics and won national acclaim for fostering a better understanding of the community.

Daniel look:

Daniel Look has trained as a Crisis Intervention Officer and serves as a Hostage Negotiator. He recently won employee of the month for “going the extra mile” deescalating and assisting an individual in crisis who had self-barricaded inside their home. Officer Look also rappelled down 30 stories in a Captain America costume to inspire others for a local community event named “Over the Edge”.

Alex Belanovich:

Since joining the Harrnett County EMS in 2006, Alex has risen through the ranks to the EMS Chief. He navigated the challenges of the pandemic with his ability to mentor and motivate his personnel, focusing on both the mission of providing EMS to the community and ensuring the safety and welfare of his team. He also supported Health Department partners by utilizing Harnett EMS personnel in mass drive-through vaccine clinics for first responders.

Clark White & Scott Phillips:

When a citizen tripped over a dining room chair broke her arm and could not get back up, she called her husband. Hearing his wife out of breath and nearly in tears he called 911. Chief Clark White and Scott Phillips reported to the scene. By the time the husband arrived home, both Clark and Scott were on the floor comforting the wife. After leaving the hospital, she stated that these heroes had been a welcome sight and filled her with a sense of safety within our community.

Megan Rosser:

Detective Sergeant Rosser is someone who truly cares for the citizens of Lee County and takes great pride in her job. In September of 2021 she initiated a GoFundMe college fund for local children and has raised over $6,000 since starting the fundraiser. This act of kindness is just one example of Megan’s dedication to consistently going beyond her call of duty.

Wayne Barber:

Wayne has served the City of Sanford faithfully and will retire January 1, 2022, as Fire Chief after dedication almost 47 years to his career. He has served the Sanford community faithfully, generously, and with a giving heart. He has been an invaluable leader and has maintained a high degree of professionalism during his career.

Marcus Lowery:

Marcus is a tremendous ambassador for the Asheboro Police department and the city of Asheboro. He is an incredibly talented young man who uses his voice to inspire by performing the National Anthem at countless events within the community. He has performed for countless professional events both live and remotely including the Carolina Panthers and most recently the Utah Jazz. Marcus has also performed the National anthem for the Asheboro Police Department Honoring our Veterans Event.

Dylan Hendricks:

Investigator Hendricks is a dedicated member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He has worked on cases from larceny all the way to homicide and is a member of the ICAC task force. Investigator Hendricks has attended multiple classes for obtaining and analyzing digital evidence. With knowledge in digital information, he has assisted multiple agencies with their cases and provides valuable information those agencies along with helping cases in Orange County.

Thomas Parody:

Lieutenant Parody is receiving this award for his leadership in saving lives in Apex through the Naloxone initiative. The purpose of the program is to govern the use of Nasal naloxone administered by Apex Police Officers to minimize the effect of potential opioid overdose in the community and/or officers exposure resulting in injury or death. Based on the most current evidence, there is overwhelming support from Apex police officers that the Naloxone program is effective in preventing fatal opioid overdoses.