It was an emotional evening at the Bayou restaurant Saturday when the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps honored a life member who recently died.
Friends and family of the late Norma Jean Cole Rice held back tears when Chief Jeremy Mothershed spoke about the service member of more than 30 years.
"It is our true honor to have every one of you here to pay tribute to an outstanding individual," company 5-9's chief said. He invited her husband, Robert Rice, also a company member, and their daughters, Jackie Montville and Renee Rice to accept an award in Mrs. Rice's honor. Mrs. Rice died in October after a yearlong battle with cancer. She was 58 years old.
"When preparing for our 25th anniversary banquet last year," Mothershed said, "Norma was there to provide direction and input - something that we missed dearly when preparing for tonight's banquet."
Sen. Barry Glassman, who is from Level but attended school in Havre de Grace, said Mrs. Rice would be entered into the Senate's journal as "an outstanding Marylander."
Mrs. Rice's legacy will be remembered in a still-under-construction pavilion at the rear of the company's station.
The Norma Jean Rice Memorial Pavilion will have a storage room and propane grill and will be equipped with water, electric and Wi-Fi. It will be available for various functions, including the company's summer family picnic.
The pavilion will be officially dedicated May 12.
A member since July 2010, Dale Clark won the prestigious EMS Person of the Year award.
An "honorable and dedicated individual," Mothershed said, Clark served 1,751 man hours in 2011 and responded to 261 calls for service. He also won February's EMS Person of the Month.
Appearing quite humble despite this great honor, Clark was given an ornate plaque and commemorative watch, as well as proclamations on behalf of the Senate, Harford delegation, Harford County Council and Havre de Grace City Council.
Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty, practically beaming with pride, said he had become a grandfather for the first time in the past 24 hours.
While his daughter went into labor, Dougherty said, "Our last concern was care for our daughter," as he had complete trust in his city's EMS service thanks to people like Clark.
Clark was also one of the top 10 EMS responders for 2011.
The other top EMS responders were Marc Butt with 438 calls, Ron Kane with 353, Sierra Hines with 316, Christopher Parker with 281, Peter Quackenbush with 213, Joe Gamatoria with 187, Jeremy Mothershed with 169, Zachary Coyle with 130 and Ryan Petrovic with 110.
In 2011, the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps responded to 1,979 calls with an average dispatch to en route time of 2:33 minutes.
Three members won this year's outstanding service award for their "dedication and hard work that did not go unnoticed," Mothershed said.
Robert Angelucci, Peter Quackenbush and Neil Crouch each received an engraved plaque that read, "For your vision in helping us grow in the future."
Benjamin Kurtz, vice chairman of the Maryland State Firemen's Association Executive Committee, honored Luanne Schweers by inducting her into the Harford/Cecil Fireman's Hall of Fame.
Schweers has been with the corps for 32 years, joining in April 1979 as part of the EMS service.
Working on several committees and still active with the company, Schweers is "well deserving of this great honor," Kurtz said.
Commemorating the event, Schweers was presented with a hat, lapel pin and plaque.
Though not a rookie in life, but joining the company last year, Gene Osborn was awarded as Rookie of the Year for showing great potential and jumping into his duties with 5-9 with both feet first.
Past president Chad Packard recognized "one member that truly stand out …every year he has served here."
Mark Hemler won the company's President's Award for his more than 30 years of service.
Many members and groups received recognition Saturday evening for work during last summer's hurricane and tropical storm.
A group of 28 members will have a company plaque, recognizing the "members who stood by during Hurricane Irene," Mothershed said.
The 31 members who helped evacuate Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center on Sept. 18, 2011 before Tropical Storm Lee hit Havre de Grace also received a plaque honoring their "phenomenal and paramount" effort.
Sierra Hines was presented with the Mary E. Gibson training award for going "above and beyond the call."