AP NEWS

Elks honor Hometown Heroes

January 15, 2017 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — The Bullhead City Elks Lodge No. 2408 presented its Hometown Hero Awards on Saturday to three first responders and a member of the judiciary.

Recognized for their service to the community were David Cornelison, Elks Peace Officer of the Year; Brian Wensel, Elks Bullhead City Firefighter of the Year; Vincent Lambert, Elks Fort Mojave Mesa Fire Fighter of the Year; and Douglas Blaydes, Elks Judicial Representative of the Year.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, a national fraternal organization and charitable foundation, established the recognition program in 2004. The Americanism Committee of Lodge No. 2408 sponsors the local honors.

“This is the highlight of my year,” said Melanie Beaver, Elks Americanism Committee chair.

The honorees are chosen for their commitment and service to the community.

Wensel, a Bullhead City firefighter/EMT, served as a police officer for the community prior to becoming a firefighter.

“He donates countless hours to the department by preparing and training for their active shooter programs, outfitting first responders with body protection and lifesaving medical bags and equipment,” Beaver said. “He combines his love of metal working and his passion for the department’s holiday toy program by making metal awards for businesses that contribute to the program and solicits donations so that there is minimal cost to the program. He is passionate about his responsibility to our community and it is through this dedication he is receiving this award.”

After receiving his award Wensel addressed the crowd.

“Thank you everyone,” he said. “This is truly an honor and I am humbled by it — I didn’t expect it. There are a lot of people who deserve this award.”

Lambert, a Fort Mojave Mesa firefighter/engineer, is currently training to become a certified emergency paramedic. In addition to the physical and time consuming demands of his job, he finds time for the community, Beaver said. He participates in the department’s elementary school fire prevention classes and he is chair of the department’s annual Easter egg hunt, which provides a local high school student a $500 scholarship. He is also vice president of the Bullhead City Little League and serves on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River.

“He is dedicated to the youth of our

community,” Beaver said. “It is through this dedicated community service that he is receiving this award.”

Lambert, a graduate of River Valley High School, said he grew up in the Elks Lodge in Needles.

“Thank you all very much,” he said. “I know what you do and it means a lot.”

Lambert was also the winning ticket holder of the 50/50 raffle.

Cornelison is an 11-year veteran of the Bullhead City Police Department and a 10-year veteran of the United States Navy.

“He is receiving this award for his ‘can do’ attitude, not only to the department but through the numerous thank you notes and letters from citizens and businesses for his kindness, patience and thoroughness,” Beaver said. “He serves our community with dedication and passion.”

Cornelison, a graduate of Mohave High School, thanked everyone for the honor.

“And I hope you have a really good time,” he said.

Blaydes, a Mohave County associate magistrate, retired after serving 28 years as a peace officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and as a County Marshal court bailiff, Beaver said, including work on a high profile FBI undercover task force, the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team, specializing in sexual and cyber crimes against children. He was the lead FBI interrogator and FBI International Logistic Sting Operations coordinator, and among other responsibilities was responsible for education and safety for detectives and FBI agents.

“Doug has been involved with the Bullhead City community as a board member of the Kiwanis and of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River and member of the American Legion and the River Regatta and as a graduate of the Colorado River Women’s Council Leadership Class,” Beaver said.

Blaydes said, “I am honored to be here tonight among the true first responders, members of the Bullhead City Police and Bullhead City and Fort Mohave Mesa Fire Departments. They are an amazing group of people.”

The Elks Americanism Committee honors police, fire and judicial system personnel as a part of a national Elks program.

“It is our privilege to honor a member from each of these fine departments for their outstanding contributions to our community,” Beaver said. “Locally, we call it our Hometown Heroes awards because it’s a small community, and those who are our first responders are close to home. They literally are our hometown heroes.”

The Mohave High School swim team provided dinner service. Mark Crough presented the benediction and Marty Field read a special presentation on heroism.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has more than 1 million members.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was established in 1868 with the mission of inculcating the principles of charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity through serving the people and community through its service programs.