1212 chamber service awards Talton
Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and Officer of the Year Sam Talton. Photo courtesy of Lisa Shapiro / Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce.
The Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce held its 2012 Safety Awards program during its monthly luncheon on Oct. 31 at the Pelham Civic Complex.
During the event, the City of Chelsea recognized Patricia Hipps as Citizen Observer Patrol Officer (COP) of the Year and Chris Kizziah as Firefighter of the Year. From the North Shelby Fire and EMS Department, William “Rusty” Johnson received the organization’s award, and Sam Talton was named Officer of the Year by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry said the department selected Talton for his dedication to the case of Carrie Elaine Gentry, a 64-year-old Chelsea woman who went missing in March. Thanks to Talton’s perseverance in his efforts as manager of that case, Gentry’s body was found after two weeks of searching in a quarry in Leeds, and the investigation was modified from a missing person to a homicide.
“We found the vehicle with the missing lady inside in 40 feet of water in another county, and nobody told us it was there,” Curry said. “It was found by hard investigative work.”
After locating her body, Talton, a 27-year service veteran who joined the department in 2008, continued on with the case, identified a suspect and obtained arrest warrants. The case is now awaiting trial, Curry said.
For Chelsea, Hipps’ award was presented by Chelsea COP Deputy Director Matt Mellen, who commended her for volunteer work in the city as well as her attention to the case of a missing man.
Mellen said Hipps headed the search and rescue team that eventually located an elderly gentleman who had allegedly wandered into the woods. The team returned him to his family without injury.
In presenting his department’s award, Chelsea Fire Department Chief Wayne Shirley commended Kizziah for his energy and ambition. Kizzah, who joined the department in 2009 assists the department in grant writing. He is also an advisor with the department’s Explorer post and dedicates his off time to educating students using that role.
Shirley also said Kizzah was one of the lead medics who assisted in the search and rescue organized by COP Hipps, adding that the department has received several compliments on his demeanor and ability when providing medical treatment on calls.
For North Shelby Fire and EMS, the award going to Battalion Chief “Rusty” Johnson was given for his presence as a leader in the department for 27 years, said presenter Chief Eugene “Buddy” Tyler. For the second time, other members of his department voted Johnson, who is slated to retire from the department on Dec. 1, to receive the award.
“Lt. Johnson exemplifies all the traits of a great firefighter,” Tyler said. “He is well educated, with extensive training and experience in firefighting and EMS. Throughout his career, he has always been respected by his peers for his leadership, great attitude and work ethic.”