More than 400 first responders from Jasper, Newton and Barton counties attended the Red, White and Blue Banquet on Saturday night at the Joplin Convention & Trade Center, where they were treated like royalty for an evening.

The event, sponsored by TAMKO Building Products, was the company’s first banquet honoring area first responders for their service. The men and women in uniform were treated to dinner and also received awards.

Ron Cook, TAMKO director of communications, said that 425 responders were in attendance at the banquet, an event the company had worked on planning for 10 months.

“CFI (Contract Freighters Inc.) did the program a few years ago, and we thought it was a wonderful thing to do,” Cook said. “We think it’s a great way to show appreciation to our first responders for all that they do for us.”

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, the guest speaker, thanked area law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical service workers for their commitment to public safety.

“American greatness is built on the courage and service of American law enforcement,” Hawley said.

“You are the true heroes of this country,” he added.

David Hayes, senior engineer with the Redings Mill Fire Protection District, said the banquet was a nice gesture in honoring first responders.

“I appreciated TAMKO for stepping up and doing this for the community of firefighters, EMS and law enforcement,” Hayes said. “It was a very enjoyable event.”

Sgt. Tim Williams, of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, said he enjoyed the opportunity to connect with different agencies in the surrounding area.

“We got to see a little bit of appreciation, and we love that,” Williams said. “To be able to get together, hang out with one another and it be a positive thing, I love it.”

Award presentation

Responders who displayed acts of heroism and leadership were honored during the award presentation. Specialized plaques and eagle trophies were distributed to those who were nominated and selected by a committee.

“The departments could nominate someone, or we opened it up to the public with a website, and the public could nominate people,” Cook said. “We had a blue-ribbon panel of seven people who decided and got to vote.”

Tallies were sent to the Ernst and Young accounting firm in St. Louis.

“The seven did not know who won until they were announced at the banquet,” Cook said.

Award recipients

• Officer of the Year: K-9 Officer Adam Brannin, with the Joplin Police Department, received first place. John Roy and Josh Craig with the Tri-City Fire Department took home second place. Deputy Nolan Murray of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department won third place.

• Outstanding Chief/Sheriff of the Year: First place went to Joplin fire Chief Jim Furgerson. Second place went to Col. Sandra Karsten of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Third place was given to Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan.

• Award of Honor: Karsten, of the state patrol, tied with Craig and Roy, of the Tri-City Fire Department.

• Fire Department of the Year: Joplin Fire Department.

• EMS Department of the Year: Joplin Metro Emergency Transport System.

• Law Enforcement Department of the Year: Joplin Police Department.

By Kimberly Barker | Joplin Globe