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Zetus VFD award honors founding father

One of the Lincoln County Fire Association’s founding fatherswill be remembered well into the coming years as the firedepartment he loved so much has created an award in his name thatgoes to a firefighter who exemplifies the characteristics ofdedication, loyalty, coachability and humility.

On Saturday night at the Lincoln County Fire AssociationBanquet, 22-year-old Zetus Firefighter Jake Horn was honored withthe Earl Tarver Award, which will be an annual award given by thedepartment each year.

To anyone who has been invovled with the Fire Association for afew years, Earl Tarver’s name brings a nostalgic smile and possiblya few hours of reminiscing about fires long past and days gone by.He was the man who showed up for everything, and he wasn’t afraidto speak his mind.

“He’s one of the ones that basically got the fire departmentstarted up years ago,” said Zetus Fire Chief Dale Anding. “Therewere a bunch in the county that got the departments started and Iguess you could say out of all the men that did respond, some didgive us the moral backing and came to the meetings, but he’s one ofthe ones that had their hands on it and he was in there with you,driving the truck, staying out night after night. He was thebackbone of the department.”

Tarver was one of the founding members of Zetus Volunteer FireDepartment, and was instrumental in bringing about several otherdepartments as well. After his death in 2004, department leadershipretired his call number, Zetus 802, to honor his memory. And it wasfor this reason that Zetus officials, when they were brainstormingthe name for a new spirit award to encourage participation andleadership in the department, chose to honor Tarver by naming theaward after him.

“He would be very pleased. He would smile and shake his head,and I don’t know if he’d even say anything. I don’t have the wordsto say what he would say. He was not a braggadocious person,” saidGlenda Tarver. “He’d say there’s a lot of people in the fireservice that deserve awards, and there are. He worked hard, but hewasn’t the only one.”

But, Glenda Tarver said, the long hours her husband gave to theservice was never something their family held against thedepartment.

“I never did begrudge him going, and he didn’t begrudge going,”she said. “We were excited to get a department started, because itwas exciting for us, and cut down on the ratings out here, and weneeded it.”

And all of Tarver’s family was able to be at the banquetSaturday night, with his children Sondra Johnson, Tammy Barnes andWally Tarver coming in from out of town to witness the firstpresentation of the award named after their father.

“I really wasn’t sure what to think because the award in itself,then it just hit me, I think it’s great that we named it afterhim,” Horn said, saying it was an honor to have Mrs. Tarver and theothers present for first year of the award. “It was good meetingher, I know her husband is one of the ones who started the firedepartment, and that means a lot to me.”

Anding said Tarver’s sacrifice and dedication helped lay thefoundation for the county departments, but of course, especiallyZetus.

“We’re so thankful for what we’ve got, and the support that thecommunity has given us through the year,” he said. “When you lookat where we were with the old green truck we called the ‘goobermobile’ to where now, with two stations and three trucks andhopefully soon four trucks… It’s a real blessing.”

The association banquet was also a success, said FireCoordinator Clifford Galey, saying that with only six of the eightdepartments present the numbers were as high as they’ve everbeen.

“There were a lot of new faces here tonight,” Galey said. “Thedepartments are really progressing, and there are severaldepartments that have lowered their ratings, and we’ve got the bestequipments and firehouses we’ve ever had.”

Other awards given by the departments Saturday included firstresponder and firefighter of the year awards. Firefighters of theYear for the departments were as follows: East Lincoln – SteveReeves, Loyd Star – Garrett Case, Heuck’s Retreat – David Case,Ruth – Cory Whittington, Hog Chain – Jacob Hedgepeth, Zetus -Therese Apel.

First Responders of the Year were named by Ruth and Loyd Starfire departments with Ruth Chief Teresa Lawrence and Loyd Star’sMichael Warren taking home the honors.