Courtesy Cherokee Nation
Pictured, from left, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker presented Cabin Creek Fire Department fire chief Jason Miller with Cabin Creek’s “Volunteer Fire Department of the Year” award, as Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden thanked Miller and his department for their service to their community.

Cherokee Nation Donates More Than $451,000 to Local Fire Departments

Cherokee Nation Release

Welling Volunteer Fire Department responded to about 400 calls and covered 199 square miles of Cherokee County this past year. The 25-member staff also assisted with water rescues on the Illinois River and public safety presentations for local schools, and they provided medical standby for athletic events at local schools and youth camps. During two of their water rescues, the crew had to wade through rising water to rescue victims and safely remove them before their homes flooded.

“It’s an honor to receive this award. The Cherokee Nation funds allow us to purchase equipment so much quicker, rather than waiting until we hold fundraisers,” said Martin Webb, Welling Volunteer Fire Department fire chief. “Last year we were able to buy a new brush pump for one of our vehicles.”

The honor of “Volunteer Firefighter of the Year” was also given to Ronnie Smith, of Hulbert, for dedicating 22 years to Spring Valley Fire Department and helping start it out of a garage and building it into two fire stations with 16 trucks.

Lester Crittenden, of Stilwell, for personally responding to every emergency call in the Bell community. He also helped set up a helicopter landing zone and rescued an individual surrounded by fire.

Sheldon Caughman, of Sallisaw, for recruiting and encouraging others in his community to volunteer. He is a certified dive instructor and working to serve as a firefighter instructor to train not only his volunteers, but others in Sequoyah County.

Cody Kackley, of Bunch, for taking nearly all his National Incident Management System trainings within his first year on the department and striving to find ways to help his fellow firefighters.

Bryce Millikan, of Vinita, for continuously coming up with donations and writing grants to help Carselowey fire station and rescuing an elderly woman who was trapped on her roof.


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