February 20, 2013 - Oxford American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108 honored Mike Solwold and Mike Upshur Sunday for their tireless dedication to public safety, consummate professionalism and exceptional commitment to the community.
Oxford Firefighter/Paramedic Mike Upshur (center left) and Oxford Village Police Sgt. Mike Solwold (center right) were named “Most Outstanding Firefighter of the Year” and “Most Outstanding Police Officer of the Year.” They were presented the awards Sunday by Oxford American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108 Vice President Pat Pitel (far left) and President Pat Bliss (far right). Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Solwold was named "Most Outstanding Police Officer of the Year," while Upshur received the award for "Most Outstanding Firefighter of the Year."
"Gosh, it's certainly unexpected. I'm shocked more than anything," said Solwold, a sergeant with the Oxford Village Police Department. "It's a great honor, but I think there are a lot of others who deserve this (award) as much as me. We don't get to where we are without everyone else's help. It's a departmental effort."
"It means a lot to me to be recognized for what I do all year," said Upshur, a paid-on-call firefighter/paramedic who's been with the Oxford Fire Department since 2007.
"It's my dream job to be a career firefighter. Everyday is very rewarding. Everyday is different. It's not like an office job. I like helping out the community."
Solwold and Upshur were recognized as part of an overall appreciation dinner and awards ceremony organized by Auxiliary Unit 108 and held at Legion Post 108.
Thirty-one members of the village police and 37 members of the fire department were presented certificates of appreciation.All the names of those honored are listed in the colored boxes to the right.
"We figured it was about time they got recognized for all the community service that they do," said Auxiliary President Pat Bliss. "They're our homeland security. We wanted to make sure they know they're appreciated."
Pat Pitel, vice president of the Auxiliary, noted the ceremony was part of the organization's efforts to promote Americanism and the "giving of self for God and country."
Solwold, who's served Oxford since 1993, was nominated for his award by Police Chief Mike Neymanowski.
"He has demonstrated superior performance in several areas," the chief wrote. "They include, but are not limited to quality enforcement, productivity, public relations, specialized training, job knowledge, management skills and personal appearance."
According to Neymanowski, Solwold possesses "a vast amount of field experience" and "strives to keep current on all laws and procedures related to his job."
It was noted that Solwold addressed more than 1,000 traffic violations in 2012 and never received one complaint.
"He always carries himself with pride and integrity," the chief wrote.
Solwold told this reporter he's wanted to be a police officer ever since he was a little boy because he wanted to "make a difference."
Solwold is heavily involved in public/youth relations. He routinely gives tours of the police station, takes citizens on ride-alongs in his patrol car and participates in the "Shop with a Hero" at the Oxford Meijer every December.
"I want to thank everybody for recognizing me, but you know, I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for all my comrades," the sergeant told the crowd.
Upshur, a 2007 graduate of Oxford High School, was nominated by Fire Chief Pete Scholz.
Scholz noted that from month to month, Upshur is "continuously" one of the department's "top two responders" when it comes to handling emergency calls.
"He is always eager to help whenever he can," the chief wrote. "Whenever assigned a task, he always follows through and wants to do more."
Upshur is so dedicated to his work that he took paramedic classes on his own time and at his own expense.
"He continuously asks if he can treat the patient so he can (garner) more experience," Scholz wrote. "It's refreshing to see someone that enthusiastic."
Oxford Fire Dept.
OFFICERS – Chief Pete Scholz, Assistant Chief Dave Creech, Capt. Ron Jahlas, Capt. Kurt Fechter, Lt. Brad Horton, Lt. Randy Schuler, Lt. Nancy Hunger, Sgt. Jeff Siarto, Sgt. Kelly Kilgore, Sgt. Steve Giroux, Sgt. Benjamin Stapp and Sgt. Blair Lockwood.
FIREFIGHTERS – Alan Adorjan, Dan Adorjan, Darin Balinski, Brandon Chambers, Connie Evans, Randy Darnell, John Fallin, Rob Fitzpatrick, Benjamin Frantz, Anthony Graybill, Ben Horton, Jon Jones, Brent Ludwig, Ryan Mcleod, Brandon Murray, Sarah Racer, Brian Rank, James Rondy, Carl Rose, Brad Schick, Kevin Snell, Jeff Stephens, Justin Templeton, Mike Upshur, and Susan VanHeck.
Oxford Village Police
OFFICERS – Chief Mike Neymanowski, Sgt. Mike Solwold, Clint Ascroft, David Churchill, Joe Alex, Paula Grech, Todd Barraco, Todd Stanfield, David Ratliff, Derek Burke and Kellie Forton.
RESERVES – Brian Schick, Phillip Humphrey, Gene Faermark, Michael Smith, Michael Bono, Kaethe Davis, Jake Miller, James Owens, Robert Chupick, John Drake, Sean Brown, James Sommers and Marvin Lewis.
DISPATCHERS – Tony VanHouten, Debbie O'Farrell, Justin Moser, Steve Porter, Edward Jamison, Chris Hardenburgh and Josh Darling.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.