ELKS HONOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATIONS
The Law Enforcement and Firefighters Appreciation Night was held February 7th by the Mission Viejo, Saddleback Valley Elks. One hundred and fifty-five guests and members paid honor to the award recipients from the Saddleback Valley and Laguna Beach areas. Past Elks State Vice President Harvey Boelts greeted the guests and introduced the master of ceremonies for the evening Past Lodge President Dennis Keffer. The ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer by Lodge Chaplain Kevin Hughes. The award plaques were presented by current Elks Lodge President Derek Randles. Sunana Batra of Congressman Darrell Issa’s office was on hand on behalf of the congressman and presented Congressional Award Certificates to the honorees. Mayors and dignitaries from the local communities along with Fire Chiefs, Police Chiefs, representatives from the California Highway Patrol and Orange County Sheriff’s Department joined with Elks State and District VIPs to honor the heroic efforts of the intrepid men and women who gallantly serve our community. Also in attendance was Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens with husband Larry.
Seventeen awards were presented. Lt. Brad Newmyer introduced Mission Viejo Deputy Matt Anderson who was named City of Mission Viejo Deputy of the year. Deputy of the Year honors for Rancho Santa Margarita went to Deputy Darin Taylor who was introduced by Lt. Ron Kennedy. Laguna Hills named Community Services Officer Mathew Padilla as their Officer of the Year. He was introduced by Lt. Roland Chacon. Lt. Ray Diggins of the California Highway Patrol presented Officer of the Year honors to Officer Kenny Rethwisch. Lt. Brad Newmyer pinch-hitting for Lt Brad Valentine introduced City of Lake Forest Police Services Deputy of the Year Ryan Hansen. Orange County Fire Battalion Chief Steve Edwards, acting on behalf of Div. 3 Chief Kirk Wells, introduced award recipients Fire Captain Greg Hosburg and Reserve Firefighter Bruce Newell of Battalion 7. Chief Edwards also introduced Battalion 6 Engineer Jason Jones who was unable to attend. Battalion 4 Engineer Dan Brown was introduced by Div 5 Chief Bryan Brice.
Others honored this year as Deputies and Firefighters of the Year were:
Investigator Mike Rupley – City of San Juan Capistrano
Deputy Victor Contrerras – City of Aliso Viejo
Reserve Firefighter Pat Knodel and Engineer Bryan Sarjeant – Laguna Beach
Deputy Tobin Anderson – City of Dana Point
Deputy Art Tiscareno - City of San Clemente
Deputy Justin Mathieson - Unincorporated South County Area
In every introduction, the recounting of the events and episodes involved, played out like a script right out of Hollywood’s best. The number of lives saved and the scores of tragedies averted by these brave defenders of our safety and wellbeing was truly amazing. It was quite overwhelming to one woman at the next table. She said, “I can honestly say that I have never been in the company of so many heroes in one place at one time.”
The gala affair was the 27th Annual Law Enforcement and Firefighters Appreciation Night put on by the Elks and was sponsored by The Elks Bingo Committee. Past State Vice President Harvey Boelts and his talented all volunteer kitchen crew prepared a delicious Filet Mignon dinner, which was served by volunteer students from Mission Viejo High School. The event was chaired by Elks Lecturing Knight Greg Morgan and Harvey Boelts with help from many more Elk members. Mission Viejo/Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge #2444 is celebrating 45 years of service to Saddleback Valley Communities. It is one of 10 lodges in the Orange Coast District of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) whose headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois. The BPOE is a charitable organization with a 147 year history of giving. "Elks Care Elks Share"