BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Members of the Maumee community joined family and friends of local loved ones honored at the 46th annual Hometown Hero and Golden Apple Awards Banquet.
The event took place on August 26 at The Pinnacle in Maumee.
Organized by the Maumee Chamber of Commerce, this year’s event was presented by Metamora State Bank.
Former Maumee Police Chief Dave Tullis received the Outstanding Citizen Award, the evening’s most prestigious honor.
“I am truly humbled,” he said. “As I look out at this crowd, I see a lot of familiar faces and a lot of friends and acquaintances, and that is because I served the city for so long, and I really feel a sense of community and Maumee pride.”
Tullis served with the Maumee Police Division for over 36 years. When he became chief in 2019, he focused his attention on community policing.
“For me to be the most effective police officer, I had to have the trust and the permission from the community to do my job,” Tullis said.
Programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, the Citizen Police Academy, a domestic violence task force, a senior outreach program, school resource officers and Safety City help reduce crime through education and training, he said.
He believes that the department’s emphasis on training has helped many officers become good leaders and he credited city leaders with having the strength and courage to implement needed changes despite significant criticism.
After retiring from his job in Maumee, Tullis began working as a security manager for the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, where he continues to enhance the safety of those he serves.
Throughout his professional career, Tullis has drawn inspiration from a Teddy Roosevelt quote from Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech, which famously reminded those making tough decisions that it is not the critic who counts, but instead the one who strives to do the deeds.
Current Maumee Police Chief Josh Sprow introduced Tullis and referred to him as an ambassador to the Maumee Police Division, the school district and the city of Maumee.
“Dave is goal-driven and would not let anything get in his way of making Maumee a better community,” he said. “If it was something that was going to make our community better, he never said ‘no,’ and Dave left every position he held better than it was when he started it.”
Three Maumee district staff members were also honored with Golden Apple Awards for the commitment they have made to education in the community.
District director of technology Jason Dugan received the award for his work implementing advanced technology through makerspaces and other programs as well as his unprecedented attention to the technology needs during the pandemic.
Dugan expressed his appreciation for his IT team, including Josh Snyder, Dan Samuel and Ben Wagener, crediting them with ensuring that every student had the proper device as well as internet capabilities to participate in daily classroom activities. The work meant being available at all times of the day.
“As a tech team, we decided that no obstacle was going to get in the way,” Dugan said. “Empathy was so important, especially during these tough times for families who were working all day and then had to go home at night and do schoolwork with their kids.”
Dugan, who is also an electrical engineer and graduate of MHS, said working for the district has been a truly fulfilling experience.
“Every day that I walk into work, I am excited to be here. I’m excited to work with students. I am excited to work with all of the exceptional staff members and administrators,” Dugan said.
MHS intervention specialist Shayla Ferguson received the award for her ability to help students achieve the highest level of independence possible.
She is credited with creating vocational programming for her students and for helping them during the pandemic by implementing and developing new procedures to help them learn.
For Ferguson, being a teacher comes with many challenges. Among them is questioning whether she is getting it right.
“Being able to read the nominations written for me was such a gift. It means so, so much to me. It feels like a little bit of validation,” she said.
She also extended her appreciation to her students, their families, fellow staff and her family.
Ferguson usually spends several years with the same students before they graduate and move on, which means she becomes very close to them.
“I’m always heartbroken when they leave, and then the next crew comes in and I love them just as much. I still love my buddies that left me and then my heart becomes even more full with my new friends – so it just shows me that I am in the right profession and doing what I was meant to do.”
Gateway Middle School computer literacy and technology team teacher Amy Stough also received a Golden Apple Award for her assistance to both teachers and students throughout remote learning.
“Thank you so much,” Stough said. “I am truly honored and totally blessed to be in this community that is so supportive.”
She also extended her appreciation to her family, students and staff.
In addition to the Golden Apple Awards, the district custodial staff received the Shiny Apple Award for the extra work provided to ensure students and staff were safe during the pandemic.
District Superintendent Dr. Todd Cramer presented the award to the staff, which included Mariam Abdulhadi, Greg Balcerzak, Jeff Ballew, Ben Ballew, Susan Grigsby, Betty Lewis, Julie Martin, Lisa Maulbetsch, Barbara Mavis, Eric Rice, Kevin Roberts, Roger Snyder, Tamara Stoma, Sean Woodson and Lamar Woodson.
“They were willing to come in and do whatever was asked,” Cramer said. “They provided that first-class sanitation for all of our buildings and I can’t help but believe that their hard work and their efforts made a difference in the fact that we had zero cases of student-to-student spread of COVID-19.”
One of the oldest recipients to ever receive a Hometown Hero Award was this year’s Bridge Award recipient, Joseph Dollman, a 101-year-old U.S. Army veteran who was honored for his 40 years of work with Boy Scout Troop 104 from St. Joseph’s Maumee.
Current Scoutmaster Dan Anderson, who was one of Dollman’s Boy Scouts, presented him with the award.
“I was lucky to have him as a scoutmaster through my entire trip through Boy Scouts,” Anderson said. “He did it right. In Joe’s troop, you would camp one weekend every month and you went the full week of summer camp. If you do that as a scoutmaster for 40 years, that means you have spent nearly three and a half years in a tent. I want to tell you scout-mastering is some of the toughest volunteer work I ever did, and he did it for 40 years, so he is a true hero.”
Anderson credited Dollman with making a positive difference in the lives of more than 500 young boys in the community.
“If I had to carve my Mount Rushmore, that guy’s face would be one of the four,” he said, pointing to Dollman, who was sitting in the audience.
While Dollman didn’t accept his award on the stage, he shared his experiences as a scoutmaster from his seat, praising Anderson for his work with the troop after he stepped aside.
“Dan was the best-liked scoutmaster 104 ever had. He was the champion,” he said.
Four local photographers – Jody Smalley, Jerry Lohman, Sean Walker and Bryan Kayne, known as Pride of the Panthers – also received a Bridge Award for their work in capturing incredible photos of students participating in sports and activities. Not only have they been dedicated to taking quality photos, but the photographers also made the images available to Maumee families and the community free of charge. Parent and previous Hometown Hero winner Michelle Fairchild nominated the four for the award.
“Thank you is not even close enough or good enough to say for all that you do. Hopefully, recognition from your community shows our true appreciation for all that you do,” Fairchild said.
Sean Walker spoke on behalf of the photographers.
“This is beyond humbling. We did this because we enjoyed it. I just want to say thank you because it means the world to me,” Walker said.
Savage received the 2020 River Award, which is presented to an organization that demonstrates exceptional generosity and civic responsibility.
Savage and the Savage Foundation have supported many local nonprofit organizations, including Connecting Kids to Meals, The Open Door, Bethany House, Metroparks Toledo and the Cherry Street Mission. The firm is also credited for developing a culture of financial wealth and healthy mind, body and spirit.
President and CEO J.R. Toland credited the staff for creating a positive work environment and for being involved in the community.
“Our vision is to improve the lives of all we serve,” he said. “We truly believe that we should be making a difference in the community each and every day. I am fortunate that I came to work at a company 37 years ago, that John and Bob Savage instilled a foundation in us to make a difference every day to give back to the community, and it rubbed off on all of us.”
Cheryl Herr, a certified emergency nurse at McLaren St. Luke’s, received the 2020 Hometown Hero Award for her dedicated work in the medical profession, especially throughout the pandemic when she established a structure for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic. She is the emergency department director and the emergency management team leader at McLaren St. Luke’s. She assisted with the development and evolution of region-wide disaster drills and is known as a skilled, calm and confident leader with a valuable career that has spanned 35 years at St. Luke’s.
Alison Avendt, McLaren St. Luke’s chief operating officer, presented Herr with the award and described her as a fierce and fearless leader.
“She frequently puts on scrubs in the middle of the night and goes into the eye of the storm with her team. They follow her into battle because she is right there with them,” Avendt said.
Known for being extremely compassionate and caring, Herr is also credited for caring about others on both a professional and personal level.
Herr said the award is very humbling.
“No one ever believes that they are a hero. That’s not a word that I would have ever used to describe myself,” she said.
A gift from a coworker – a bracelet with the word “hero” inscribed in it, which she wears every day – helps her stay grounded in the thought, she said. She also draws inspiration from those she is surrounded by whom she also considers heroes, including her parents.
“They really made it easy for me to see what a hero does. They worked hard, they respected others and they truly are genuine and loving and gave generously of oneself at any point and anytime,” she said.
She expressed gratitude to her siblings, husband and children and to her hospital coworkers.
“McLaren St. Luke’s holds many, many heroes in that building. They are selfless, they are courageous and hardworking,” Herr said. “For 35 years, I have been a proud member of St. Luke’s and the Maumee community, and I share this Hometown Hero Award with everyone at St. Luke’s.”