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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Ten honored as hometown heroes

Friday, September 29, 2006

Retired Putnam County Judge Sally Gray couldn't have said it any better.

"We do have control about what happens in our community," Gray told an audience at the Putnam County Elks Lodge Thursday evening for the first Putnam County Hometown Heroes Honors Banquet. "You are heroes in the truest sense of the word. I cheer you on to bigger and better things."

Ten county citizens were honored at the banquet Thursday, which was conducted by the Waters and Autumn Glen.

Each "hero" was nominated in written form by other citizens in the county and those people introduced the "heroes" at the banquet.

The Waters assistant administrator/CEO Holly Wachtel said the banquet will continue annually.

Gray was the keynote speaker of the event, telling all those in attendance Thursday how special Putnam County and its residents are.

Nine of the 10 "heroes" were on hand Thursday. Each received a plaque for being chosen and a written poem.

The "heroes" were Pete Curtis, Dora Buck, Jenny Heithaus, Jean Bowen, Bob and Marilyn Jackson, Jerrod Baugh, Roy Bumgardner, Bill Newgent and Joseph Miles.

Stephanie Chasteen -- an employee at The Waters -- asked to read the anonymous letter sent in honoring Bumgardner, a 17-year veteran of the Greencastle Fire Dept.

Chasteen said she cried when reading the letter for the first time.

"I was like, 'let me do it,'" Chasteen said.

She broke down again when reading the letter on Thursday, which described a brief moment in Bumgardner's firefighting life that he'll never forget.

The letter told a story regarding the Greencastle Feed Mill fire in 1996. During the fire, Bumgardner and fellow firefighter Brian Moore were standing on a rusted metal roof when it collapsed. Moore nearly fell through -- as the two firefighters were standing 30-feet above concrete.

Bumgardner grabbed Moore and did not let go. Bumgardner said his wife could hear his voice on the scanner yelling for help as he and Moore slipped further.

"I even have the 911 tape," Bumgardner said Thursday. "You can hear me."

However, the two were rescued, but Bumgardner required surgeries on his arms following the incident.

It's been 10 years since that incident, a moment Bumgardner and an anonymous person will never forget.

"I think this is a great program," Bumgardner said of the banquet. "A program like this is long overdue."

Debbie Jones was the reason Newgent received his award on Thursday. The two are neighbors and Jones described how the GFD Chief helped save her home during a fire and also helped her husband after she found him unresponsive. Newgent managed to run to his neighbor's house after hearing the 911 call.

"We all are, at times, heroes to other people," said Thomas Miller, who closed Thursday's banquet.



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