The dual Rotary Clubs — Oakdale and Sunrise — once again collaborated to honor the city’s best in public service at a Wednesday, March 2 luncheon held at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club.
Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul was on hand to help pass out the honorary plaques and to represent the city as each person was introduced by their superior.
Police Chief Marty West kicked off the event by introducing Joey Francis as the Professional Support Staff of the Year. Francis started off as an explorer and has aspirations of one day becoming a police officer in Oakdale. His peers selected him for the honor because of a myriad of reasons but as West said, Francis always “remains calm under pressure,” which is an important skill to possess as a dispatcher. Joe Cruz was named Reserve Officer of the Year for being “dedicated and hard-working.” Cruz dedicates 10 hours a week to the streets of Oakdale and has taken on the task of reviving the mounted patrol.
“He’s always available, even if it’s on short notice,” West said, adding jokingly, “(Cruz) said his hobby is the Oakdale Police Department.”
Explorer Tyler Lewis was named as volunteer of the year for his efforts in recruiting other young people into the explorer program.
Lewis said, “I had absolutely no knowledge of law enforcement until I became an explorer and I want to thank the police department.”
Detective Brian Shimmel was named Officer of the Year but he wasn’t able to attend the event due to prior commitments.
West said of Shimmel, “He cares about people. We’re proud of Brian Shimmel’s service to the department. He’s well-respected among his peers and an outstanding officer.”
Oakdale City Fire Chief Michael Botto wasn’t able to attend, so Capt. Louie Morua and engineer Brian Rotan performed the honors of recognizing the entire Oakdale City Fire Department for their service.
“We wanted to recognize what the entire team has done all year,” Morua said.
Later, OFD was called out and thus, missed out on pictures.
Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District Chief Lee Winton introduced Capt. Mike Tobin as the rural district Firefighter of the Year, calling him a “tremendous support to the district.”
Winton continued, “I want to personally applaud Mike’s efforts. He’s a great employee and we love having him around.”
Alec Medeiros was named as ORFD’s Volunteer of the Year. Medeiros was one of three firefighters laid off when budget cuts came down last year but in spite of this, Medeiros continued to volunteer with the district.
Winton acknowledged, “It takes a lot of heart and the right kind of attitude and that’s what Alec has.”
Recently, Medeiros was offered a full-time position with Petaluma Fire Department and will be leaving ORFD.
“It speaks to his abilities,” Winton said. “And we’re immensely proud of him.”
Ray Leverett, Oak Valley Hospital District Director of Emergency Services, introduced the EMT of the Year — or the prankster of the year for his sense of humor — Matt Severson, who is also an Oakdale City firefighter.
“He’s known for his sense of humor,” Leverett said, sharing a few of Severson’s more infamous pranks on his colleagues. “Matt is a joy to have around.”
Leverett presented the Paramedic of the Year honors to William Hutchings.
Hutchings thanked his wife and his team, saying, “It’s a real team effort out there.”
Lastly, Lt. Lester Jenkins of the Oakdale Police Department presented Darren Eudy with the Stanislaus 911 Regional award for his services with county dispatch.
Eudy was suitably humbled, saying, “Thank you for the honor.”