Sisters Fire honors longtime volunteers
Last updated 10/31/2023 at 9:32am
Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District was built by volunteers - people who stepped up to fill needs from fighting fires to building fire stations.
The Fire District is honoring those who helped make the Fire District what it is today with a permanent plaque honoring long-time volunteer service. The plaque, mounted at the entrance to the Fire Hall at 302 S. Elm St., was unveiled in a ceremony on Friday afternoon, October 27. The inaugural honorees are Tom Haynes, Chuck Newport, Rita Hodge, and Dave Moyer. The plaque has room for additional names to be added over the years.
Fire Chief Roger Johnson and staff turned out in Class A uniforms for the ceremony honoring the spirit that Fire District Board Secretary/Treasurer Jack McGowan called "the best of Sisters."
Tom Haynes has served for 48 years as a volunteer, and was active in Camp Sherman's fire district prior to the merger with Sisters in 1991. He was instrumental in the volunteer effort to build the fire station in Camp Sherman, where he and his wife, Barb, live. He has responded to countless calls over nearly five decades of service.
Johnson chuckled as he recalled meeting Haynes when he first came on as Sisters' Fire Chief 11 years ago. Haynes told him then that he wanted "to slow down some."
"It's 11 years later, and Tom still has his jacket on and is still serving the Camp Sherman community," Johnson said.
Chuck Newport, too, was one of the key figures in the construction of a fire station in Camp Sherman - done by volunteers on nights and weekends.
Newport recalled operating with apparatus that was so slow that they had to wave drivers around them during responses to accidents on the Santiam Pass. Regardless of limitations, the volunteers always got the job done.
Newport served for many years as president of the Fire District Board of Directors, and Johnson said he helped navigate the District through challenges.
"The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District would absolutely not be here today without Chuck Newport and your contribution," Johnson told the now-retired volunteer.
Rita Hodge served the district for 32 years, responding to innumerable ambulance calls, and teaching CPR. She taught trainers to teach the lifesaving technique. She earned her paramedic certification while serving in Sisters. In addition, she was a key figure in the District's outreach programs, playing a witch at Halloween and serving in a key leadership role in the annual Christmas toy drive.
"Rita's left an indelible mark on Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District," Chief Johnson said.
The acknowledgement of Dave Moyer was emotional, as his family recalled his dedication to service, which lasted for half a century, right up to his death earlier this year. Dave and Donna Moyer lived right across Washington Street from the fire station, so he was often the first volunteer to respond to a call.
"He was really well-respected as an equipment operator and driver of apparatus," Chief Johnson recalled.
Moyer, whose career was with the U.S. Forest Service, also served on incident management teams. His sons also went into volunteer service. Moyer's volunteerism was not confined to fire calls. He also pitched in at Fire District events, and represented a genuine spirit of community service.
"My husband loved volunteering for this department for so many years," Donna Moyer said at Friday's ceremony. "I just want to thank every one of you for the support you have given our family. All I can say is, he loved all of you."