A special group of men and women who put their lives on the line daily were honored Tuesday evening in Wheeling. Undo’s and WesBanco teamed up to serve a “thank you” dinner to the fire departments, police officers, EMT’s and dispatchers who responded to the St. John’s Church fire on March 30.
The first responders gathered at the Elm Grove Undo’s to be recognized for their efforts. Each department and responding agency was presented with a brick salvaged from the historic church, with a thank you note written on it.
A few leaders spoke to the group, and commended them not just on fighting the fire, but saving the surrounding buildings, as well.
“We are so grateful to have these volunteers,” said Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell. “And on that particular night, the communication and coordination was so unbelievable. Everything clicked like it should have, and the result was they did save the building, actually, and the buildings around it.”
“And it’s volunteer, and I think that’s what a lot of people forget. These guys all have regular jobs and there has never been a minute where none of them showed up,” Herk Sparachane, owner of Undo’s said of honoring the first responders. “And it’s just a small token because the training, they came so far to be firemen, because I’m sure they have to meet up-to-date standards every year. They’re pretty amazing for volunteer firemen.”
First responders from Benwood, McMechen, Boggs Run, Wheeling, Moundsville, Glen Dale, Neffs and Marshall County 911 dispatch were honored.
At the end, a hat was passed around to collect money for The Salvation Army, another agency that frequently responds to fires and disasters. Hundreds of dollars were raised in a matter of minutes, when departments decided to match what was collected.
The demolition of the church is nearly complete, and a new church will be built on the same site.