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Praising their service

This week, The McDuffie Mirror is publishing a special section to honor the volunteers and emergency personnel who work to make our community great.

From members of the law enforcement community to ambulance personnel to firefighters to our local volunteers, the success of Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County can only be attributed to true teamwork.

All too often, the work of many of these folks is quietly done in the background. In the years I've worked in newspapers, it's amazing the number of people who genuinely believe that doing their job right means keeping their name out of print - even for good reasons. So many are content to blend into the background, get their work done and move on. If they save a life or beautify a community in the process, they see it as just part of their job.

And that's the reason for our special section, entitled "To Serve and Protect."

In that vein, I'd like to shine the spotlight on a few folks who recently went above and beyond their call of duty.

It all started about 10 p.m. on Good Friday. The rain and wind had been in town for just a little when the power at my house blinked, came back on for a few seconds and then went out. Since our neighborhood is essentially a loop on the power grid, Miriam and I decided to find the source of the problem.

However, before we could get out of the house, the police scanner started going crazy. Numerous calls were reporting a tornado in the Moose Club Road area. It could have easily turned into chaos on the emergency frequencies, but the two dispatchers on duty - Reggie Jones and Millie Smith - kept calm. (Yes, Millie is my mom, but that absolutely doesn't detract from the job the crew did that night.) They were joined at the dispatch center by McDuffie County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner, along with various other emergency and communication's personnel throughout the night.

Before the night was over, I'd spent a few hours (much to the chagrin of my wife who hadn't bargained on a night of news) traveling around the county. At nearly every turn, there were people working outside of their "boxes." Law enforcement personnel were helping clear trees from roadways. Firefighters were directing traffic and wielding chainsaws. Even regular folks left their homes to help with the clean-up.

Thankfully, no one was seriously injured and the bulk of the damage was done to things that can be repaired or replaced.

And, thankfully, there's a dedicated group of professionals in our community to help up put the pieces back together again.

Web posted on Thursday, April 30, 2009

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