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Events > 2016 Events > Police & Firefighters

Police & Firefighters Appreciation Awards

Saturday February 20, 2016
Andy Costello, Publicity
Mike Klinger, Photographer

The Law Enforcement and Firefighters Appreciation Night was held February 20th by the Mission Viejo, Saddleback Valley Elks. One hundred and twenty-five guests and members paid honor to the award recipients from the Saddleback Valley and Laguna Beach areas. Retired Firefighter and Elks District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler (DDGER) 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 David Tucker. The Orange County Fire Authority Color Guard presented the Colors. Award plaques were presented by Elks DDGER Boelts. Laguna Hills Mayor Barbara Kogerman and husband Bill, along with dignitaries from the local communities, Fire Chiefs, Police Chiefs, and 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.

Seventeen awards were presented. In law enforcement, Captain Jim Fonseca of the California Highway Patrol presented Officer of the Year honors to Officer Eric JamesLt. Brad NewMyer introduced Mission Viejo Deputy Jeff Flaming who was named City of Mission Viejo Deputy of the year. Community Service Officer of the Year honors for Rancho Santa Margarita went to Officer Luis Maldonado who was introduced by Lt. Ron Kennedy.

Laguna Hills named Deputy Peter Ada as their Officer of the Year. He was introduced by Lt. Roland ChaconLt Brad Valentine introduced City of Lake Forest Police Services Deputy of the Year Brandi CampbellDeputy Rafiq Nabi was awarded Deputy of the Year of the city of Aliso Viejo and introduced by Lt. John MacPherson.Lt. Scott Spalding introduced the City of San Juan Capistrano’s Deputy of the Year Carl DosslandLt. Dave Moody praised San Clemente Deputy of the Year Randy Morphew, who was unable to attend, and accepted the award on his behalf. Deputy of the Year for the City of Dana Point James Johnson was named by Lt. Russell ChiltonLt. Matthew Barr introduced City of Laguna Niguel Deputy of the Year John HopkinsDeputy Morgen Johnston was named Deputy of the Year for South East Operations and introduced by Lt. Mitch Wang.

Sharing the honors of the evening were representatives of the Laguna Beach Fire Department and Orange County Fire Authority. Laguna Beach Division Chief Api Weinert presented awards to Engineer/Paramedic Alex Pacheo and Reserve Firefighter Jeff Zaccaro. Orange County Fire Battalion Chief Steve Pardi accepted an award for Fire Captain Miguel Maldonado of Battalion 7 who was unable to attend. Battalion 4 award recipient Captain Jorge Vargas was also unable to attend but was honored byBattalion Chief George Caserio. OCFA Battalion 6 Chief Cliff Bramelette presented awards to Dana Point’s Reserve FirefighterScott Mermel and Captain Aaron Clark who was unable to attend.

In every introduction, the recounting of the events and episodes involved, played out like a page right out of a bestselling adventure novel. The number of lives saved and the scores of tragedies averted by these brave defenders of our safety and well-being was truly amazing. Elks Past President Dennis Keffer said of the event, “I’ve been Master of Ceremonies at these tributes for seventeen years and I never tire of hearing the stories related by these wonderful people.” Following the awards ceremony event Chairman Harvey Boelts said, “We read in the news about the incidents these men and women are involved in and must deal with on a daily basis. Some of those incidents are frightening with endings that are quite sad, and some have results that bring a smile to your face. But all give you an appreciation of having these amazing servants of the community here to deal with them. Meeting these men and women in person with their wives, husbands and children present and beaming with pride, just shows you the real human side of their story.”  

The gala affair was the 28th Annual Law Enforcement and Firefighters Appreciation Night put on by the Elks and was sponsored by The Elks Bingo Committee. Elks District Deputy Harvey Boelts and his talented all volunteer kitchen crew (family) prepared a delicious Fillet Mignon dinner, which was served by volunteer students from Mission Viejo High School. The event was chaired by Elks Harvey Boelts with help from many more Elk members. Mission Viejo/Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge #2444 is celebrating 47 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 148 year history of giving. "Elks Care Elks Share"