CG City Council recognizes part-time retiring firefighters


The Cottage Grove City Council honored eight retiring part-time firefighters at the Feb. 7 regular meeting. Ranging in years of service from 5 to 17.5 years, Mike McCoy, Ryan Sundell, Tony Rich, Alex Weisner, Xavier Gutierrez, Kiel Kwiatkowski, Eric Morcos, and Mike Skara were recognized, with those in attendance receiving plaques presented by the council for their dedication to the community.
Public Safety Director Pete Koerner gave a brief introduction to the council, outlining how the combination service of 12 full-time and 50 part-time firefighters/EMTs/paramedics has created a strong program for Cottage Grove emergency response. He noted that those being honored for five years of service or more receive helmets, badges, and plaques for their desks.
“As we know, and our Director of Public Safety had mentioned, we’ve had a lot of changes in the fire department, different models and processes,” said Mayor Myron Bailey. “And of course with change, sometimes there are people that say ‘You know what, I’ve been here quite a while, maybe it’s time to try something new and move on’. But we also want to recognize the amount of years of service that many individuals that we’re going to recognize here this evening have put into our community.
“We wouldn’t be the city we are without each and every one of these individuals,” continued Bailey. “The fact is we have been known as a community that takes great pride and excitement in our Public Safety, which covers both police and fire/EMS. So, I just wanted to say thank you once again. That’s part of the reason that we wanted to mention that whether you’re an outgoing member of the fire department or existing members of the fire department and the Public Safety team, we do appreciate everything that you do.”
Councilmember Justin Olsen said, “I’m really excited to see so many of the family members and friends and children of our retiring firefighters come out. Great to have Commissioner (Karla) Bigham here as well. She’s the daughter of a firefighter, I’m the son of a firefighter, so this is a really special night.” Olsen pointed out that between the eight firefighters being recognized, their experience comprises 78 years of total service, expressing that it will be a big loss to see them go.
“All of the names on the list have done an amazing job of passing their knowledge down to the next generation of our Cottage Grove Fire Department members, whether full-time or part-time, acting as true leaders and mentors for the younger firefighters that are currently on staff,” said Olsen. “We owe them a debt of gratitude.”
He continued, “We want to make sure that you all understand how grateful we are for the time that you’ve spent serving the citizens of Cottage Grove. For the public watching at home, all of the folks on the list have spent a lot of time away from their families serving our residents. Whether it be as firefighters or as EMT personnel, going to various events like the Hometown Holiday Celebration, Strawberry Fest, Fourth of July, interacting with the public, etc. This isn’t just a part-time job, this is a calling, and all of these folks stepped up to the largest degree possible to make sure that call was answered here in the City of Cottage Grove. So again, a small token of appreciation, but please know that our hearts are full of gratitude.”
Mayor Bailey read the plaque, saying “In recognition of years of dedicated service to the Cottage Grove Public Safety Department and the citizens which we serve.” He then thanked the families of the firefighters for the sacrifice of time over the years when fire department services were needed in the community. A group photo was taken with firefighters and their families, to a round of applause from the crowd attending the meeting.