Caldwell Billboard Be Aware Don’t Share Web Banner

Hickory Elks recognize exceptional firefighter and police officer of the year

HICKORY, NC (February 4, 2019) — Duty, honor, country: These were the themes of the Hickory Elks’ Americanism Recognition Ceremony on February 2.  Each of these words, a reference to the famed speech by General Douglas MacArthur, encompass the spirit of Hickory’s Fire and Police Departments.  The Hickory Elks awarded an exceptional member of each department, among other military and student awardees.

Wesley Blackwelder was named the 2019 Exceptional Firefighter of the Year.  For the past year and a half, Blackwelder has been the lead Technical Rescue Ropes instructor, and trained approximately 90 percent of department personnel and individuals from surrounding fire departments.  This endeavor required a yearlong commitment to train three shifts of personnel, totaling nine complete classes.  The class for each individual consists of 75 hours, including both classroom and practical skills.  This resulted in Blackwelder providing over 7,500 training hours of instruction time for the department.  In addition, he continued to show his dedication by training all firefighters on Hazardous Materials Sampling and Monitoring.  With his expertise in Technical Rescue and Hazardous Materials, he also volunteered his knowledge to research and assist with the purchase of new gas monitors and additional rescue equipment for the department.  Blackwelder’s extensive knowledge and dedication to training his fellow firefighters certain qualify him to be named an Exceptional Firefighter.

“Our department and I are very proud of Wes and are thrilled that he has been chosen for this prestigious award.  His commitment to continuous learning and improving the fire service through training is commendable.  We’re happy to see his contributions be noticed,” stated Fire Chief Matt Hutchinson.

Master Police Officer Marcus Chapman was chosen by his peers as the 2019 Exceptional Police Officer of the Year for his continued outstanding service to citizens and his fellow department members.  MPO Chapman always exemplifies Hickory Police Department’s core values of Professionalism, Accountability, Compassion, and Teamwork. He is a training officer for the department and seeks out opportunities to mentor other officers, even outside of this role.  He cares for his fellow officers and recently demonstrated compassion by requesting HPAC assist with a BBQ benefit fundraiser for a coworker.  He is also dedicated to serving the community beyond work hours.  Chapman volunteers his time to assist coaching the Hickory High School wrestling team to give back and mentor the student athletes on the team.  MPO Chapman strives to offer the citizens of Hickory the best and most professional police service on each and every encounter.  His exemplary conduct and commitment to serving both the community and his fellow officers qualify Chapman to be recognized as an Exceptional Police Officer.

“Officer Chapman is certainly deserving of this high honor.  It’s even more special because he was nominated and selected by his fellow coworkers for his outstanding service to the community.  We appreciate his daily efforts to make Hickory a better place, and consider ourselves lucky to work alongside him,” added Police Chief Thurman Whisnant.

The City of Hickory is proud of Blackwelder and Chapman and congratulates them on receiving this high honor.  The City also appreciates the Hickory Elks Lodge and their efforts to recognize those who give of themselves to better the community.