Pilots salute civic servants

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The Pilot Club of Suffolk recently held its 17th Annual Civic Awards Night, recognizing some of the outstanding public servants in the city. Suffolk Mayor E. Dana Dickens III was also on hand during the event at the Elks Lodge along with the Virginia District Governor of Pilot International Jeanne Banks.

Suzanne Langston welcomed guests and honorees as the program began, and Mistress of Ceremonies, Fan Panton, made the introductions.

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The first certificates of appreciation for their service went to the Suffolk Police Department with Chief William A. Freeman accepting on behalf of his officers and staff for their help with Pilot’s Green Safety Tree.

The BPOE #685 Elks Lodge was also presented with a certificate of thanks for the use of their facilities.

Janet Simpkins, wife of the late Suffolk Police Officer Michael Simpkins, was also presented with a certificate of appreciation for the many volunteer services her husband provided to the community and the club.

The Nansemond River High Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corp and Michael Brian Wolford, son of Pilot president-elect Cathy Wolford, were also recognized and thanked for their help with the Queen’s Luncheon and many other events. The young man operates the sound system which belonged to Simpkins. In fact, most people refer to him as &uot;Little Mikey,&uot; who was his hero.

In recognition of community services, the Pilot Club of Suffolk annually gives out contributions to many local agencies. Funds for these gifts are generated through the sale of tickets to the Queen’s Luncheon, an event that honors Suffolk Festivals’ Peanut Fest Queen each year.

The agencies receiving contributions this year included the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad, Project Lifesaver, Crime Line and Lifeline. The Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless also received a donation, as did the Genieve Shelter, Meals on Wheels, the Habitat for Humanity, and the Suffolk Literacy Council. The Community Services Board, Camp Bruce McCoy, Alzheimer’s Association, the Rockin’ Relay for Life, and the Reading Is Fundamental program.

Several people in the community were honored for their outstanding service to the people of Suffolk including Judy Shuck, the Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. Capt. Gary A. Saunders of the Suffolk Fire Department was recognized as Firefighter of the Year, and Suffolk Police Det. John M. Jones was honored as the Police Officer of the Year. He was selected earlier in the month as the Suffolk Police Department’s &uot;Police Officer of the Year 2003.&uot; This honor follows that of his being chosen as the Police Officer of the Third Quarter.

Arielle Taylor was named the Suffolk Police Department’s Explorer of the Year, and Willie Ann Gardner is the Volunteer Literacy Council Tutor of the Year. Sandra Brinkley was selected as the Outstanding Community Professional of the Year. She works with the Community Services Board.

The Outstanding Anchor Club Member is Marlana Ashe, and Helen Pearson was honored as the Outstanding School Bus Driver of Children with Disabilities. The Outstanding Teacher of Children with Disabilities and Teacher’s Assistant of Children with Disabilities are Patricia Yandle and Virginia Williamson, respectively.

The Pilot Club of Suffolk is celebrating its 30th anniversary of service to others in this community. Pilot is an international organization of executive and professional leaders working together to improve the quality of life in local communities in 60 countries.