Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, left, with Peninsula Township Supervisor Isaiah Wunsch, right, and Kalep Adams, Paramedic/Firefighter, who received the
Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, left, with Peninsula Township Supervisor Isaiah Wunsch, right, and Kalep Adams, Paramedic/Firefighter, who received the "Fire Chief Richard VanderMey Memorial Firefighter of the Year Award" for 2023 | Jane Boursaw Photo
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At last week’s regular meeting of the Peninsula Township Board, Kalep Adams took home the 2023 “Fire Chief Richard VanderMey Memorial Firefighter of the Year Award.” Kalep is pictured above with Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, left, and Peninsula Township Supervisor Isaiah Wunsch, right.

Gilstorff said that Kalep, a firefighter and paramedic, has been a great asset since joining the Peninsula Township Fire Department three years ago.

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“He has a great work ethic and is a dedicated member of our department,” he said, noting that Kalep completed his paramedic training in 2023 and became state certified. “The department appreciates all that Kalep does and looks forward to him continuing to be the valuable member that he is.”

Other members of the team receiving commendations include Lt. Kyle Sarber, EMT/Firefighter Nick Haines, Paramedic/Firefighter Joe Sicoli, EMT/Firefighter Cobey Taylor, Firefighter Laura Martin, Firefighter Logan Shananaquet and Firefighter Luke Miller.

Special awards were given to Cobey Taylor, Nick Haines, Luke Miller, EMT/Firefighter Griffin Dunn, and Firefighter Dan Drew for their successful rescue of a family of six who were stranded in a boat near Mission Point Lighthouse last summer.

Additionally, EMT/Firefighter Jordan LaPoint and EMT/Firefighter Grant Blackmer received kudos for extinquishing a boat fire in West Bay last summer.

Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, left; Peninsula Township Supervisor Isaiah Wunsch, right; with members of the Peninsula Township Fire Department | Jane Boursaw Photo
Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, left; Peninsula Township Supervisor Isaiah Wunsch, right; with members of the Peninsula Township Fire Department | Jane Boursaw Photo

Tommy VanderMey received kudos for his 15 years of service to the department, as well as Paul Lipke, Joe Sicoli, and Dan Drew for completing five years of service, and Kalep Adams for completing three years of service.

I asked Pam VanderMey, who was at the meeting, to hop into the photo, as she does so much for the fire department, including keeping them fed. The Firefighter of the Year Award is named after her late husband, Rich VanderMey, longtime Peninsula Township fire chief who passed away on Dec. 26, 2019.

Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, left; Peninsula Township Supervisor Isaiah Wunsch, right; with Pam VanderMey and members of the Peninsula Township Fire Department | Jane Boursaw Photo
Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, left; Peninsula Township Supervisor Isaiah Wunsch, right; with Pam VanderMey and members of the Peninsula Township Fire Department | Jane Boursaw Photo

I like to think of Pam as the Gwennie Watson of this generation. Back in the day, Gwen was the coordinator of the fire department’s auxiliary group, which provided coffee, food, blankets or whatever was needed to the fire department. Gwen and her husband Claude owned Watson’s Store, which was located across the road from where the Peninsula Market is now located in Mapleton. Gwen’s niece, Leslie Tozier, visited the Old Mission Peninsula with her family in 2018.

Congratulations to everyone who received awards, to Chief Gilstorff for exceptional leadership of the department, and to every member of the Peninsula Township Fire Department team for looking after us year after year.

For more about the Peninsula Township Fire Department, visit their Facebook page or the Peninsula Township website here. Click here to read about last year’s Firefighter Awards presentation.

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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