Senator Dr. Mike Maroney present Benwood Volunteer Fire Department Chief Michael Joseph Smith with the Distinguished West Virginian award at the West Virginia State Fireman’s Association convention at Grand Vue Park Thursday.

 The Distinguished West Virginian Award, which honors a citizen’s service to West Virginia, is the highest award that can be presented to a citizen by the Governor. Senator Maroney presented the award on behalf of Governor Jim Justice, who designated Chief Smith for this honor.

Smith has served as Chief of Benwood’s department for 50 years, and was also presented with commendations from the House of Delegates and State Senate for his years of service to the City of Benwood and its residents.

Chief Smith joined the Benwood Volunteer Fire Department in 1958, and was elected fire chief in 1967.

“There are very few people who truly represent selfless dedication to service like Chief Mike Smith,” Senator Maroney said. “For almost 60 years, he has been on the front lines of protecting his community as a first responder, and has spent countless hours of his life training firefighters to be prepared for the most dangerous situations we could imagine. I’m honored to be able to present the Chief with these awards for his service, but we could never come close to truly thanking him for all he has given to the City of Benwood, Marshall County, and the State of West Virginia.”

Throughout his service to the City of Benwood, he has been instrumental in securing federal funding for new fire trucks and equipment, and was a key part of the planning and building of Benwood’s new fire station.