Assemblyman Schmitt Hosts His Inaugural 99th Assembly District Salute To First Responders Event

Washingtonville, NY -- (09/16/19) Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R,C,I-New Windsor) held his inaugural 99th Assembly District Salute to First Responders event at the Orange County Emergency Services Center this evening. This official State Assembly government event was created to recognize first responders from across the Assembly District who have made significant contributions to their communities and the 99th Assembly District.

With an overflowing audience, Assemblyman Schmitt honored sixteen individual first responders and one first responder group and presented each with an Assembly citation recognizing their achievements and contributions and an official class A uniform pin. Assemblyman Schmitt is proud to announce his inaugural class of Salute to First Responders honorees:

Village of South Blooming Grove: Brian Carey, South Blooming Grove Fire Department and FDNY (ret)

Brian Carey has been an active member of the South Blooming Grove Fire Department for 38 years, and has served as the Commissioner for the past 20 years. He started volunteering at the age of 16. He worked his way through the ranks and became Chief of the department for 3 years. Additionally, Brian served 24 years with the FDNY, retiring as a Lieutenant in ladder 54 in March 2017. Brian was an active member of FDNY during the 9/11 attack on our nation, serving in Squad 61. He was highly regarded as an upstanding leader, and served as a mentor and role model for younger firefighters. Like so many good hardworking heroes in those dark days, Mr. Carey worked tirelessly in serving New York City and our nation. Upon retirement he continued his service to the South Blooming Grove Community, and has been instrumental in the training of new firefighters in South Blooming Grove. He is known for his willingness to help out in the community he loves.

Town of Chester: Deana Santosky-Wright, Town of Chester Police Department

Officer Wright is honored tonight as a member of both the Town of Chester Police Department and as an active member of the United States Army. The town recognizes Deana tonight for balancing a civil service career while serving and protecting our nation on active military duty. In September of 1999 Deana entered into military service with the Army. In 2006, Deana graduated the basic police course. From May of 2006 through October 2007 Deana completed military training and was deployed to Iraq. In October of 2012 Deana joined the Town of Chester Police Department. From October 2017 through July 2018 Deana was deployed to Kuwait but served the majority of that time in Iraq.

Village of Chester: John Deshler, Chester Fire Department

Jack has been nominated in recognition of his dedication, extraordinary commitment and years of service to the Chester Community. Public Service has been his life throughout his career and in his retirement. Jack was born, raised and has resided in Chester for 78 years. He and his wife Patricia have been married since 1965 and raised 3 daughters, Michele, Denise and Karen in the community. Jack began his career at the US Post Office in Chester, where he worked for 37 years, rising to the rank of Postmaster in 1985 - a position he held until retirement in 1996. Jack was then employed as a 911 Communications Dispatcher in Orange County until 2011. He was instrumental in inputting the Multiple Alarm Mutual Aid Program into the system. Jack has been a 60 year member of the Walton Engine and Hose Company #1 in Chester, since 1959. He has held positions of Secretary, 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant, Captain and President. Jack also served as 2nd Assistant Chief, 1st Assistant Chief and Chief for the Chester Fire Department. In 1970 Jack was nominated as the Orange County Fireman of the Year. This same year Captain Jack Deshler was involved in a courageous lifesaving effort when he arrived on the scene before his fire unit from the Walton Company arrived. Jack Deshler was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners of the Chester Fire District and has served for 8+ years - currently serving as Chairman of the Board.

Town of Cornwall: Timothy McCarty, West Point Fire Department (ret), New Windsor Volunteer Ambulance Corps

The Cornwall Community has nominated Tim McCarty to receive this recognition with respect for his life of service as both a Firefighter and an EMT. In 1980 Tim joined the Storm King Engine Company #2 and was named the Rookie of the Year in 1981. He served as a Company Officer from 1982-1991, was Chief Officer from 1991-1995 and Chief of Department in 1994 -1995, and President of the Company in 1996. Tim is a Life Member of Storm King Engine Co. #2. In 1985 Tim became an EMT and was a member of the Cornwall Volunteer Ambulance Corp until 1990. He is certified as a Paramedic and currently works with New Windsor Ambulance Corp. In 2004 Tim became a member of the Salisbury Mills Fire Department, and is active in this role today. He is currently a Commissioner for the District.

Additionally, Tim worked for the West Point Fire District from 1988 as a Firefighter and EMT. He was promoted to Captain in 2005 and retired in 2014 as a Captain after 26 years of service.

Town of Goshen: George Lyons, Goshen Volunteer Ambulance Corps

George is honored tonight in appreciation and recognition for his many years of service with the Goshen Volunteer Ambulance Corps. George has been on call and or riding for 45 years. George has been the recipient of many Annual 1000 Hour Certificates because George has devoted over 50,000 hours of his time to the emergency medical services of the Goshen Community. This past year he has given 2,867 hours and answered 172 calls. George has been named GOVAC’s Corp Person of the Year for his dedicated service 4 times. Throughout his years in government service, George continued to use his EMT skills riding for GOVAC every chance that he could, often signing for “graveyard” shift from midnight to 6am. He served as President of GOVAC numerous times as well as offices of Treasure, 1st Lt., 2nd Lt., and Vice President. One of George’s favorite jobs was playing Santa for the annual GOVAC Children’s party, arriving by ambulance because his sled broke down on the way. Throughout this long career in education, whether teaching, coaching or counseling in Warwick, Goshen or Newburgh, George has touched the lives of thousands of our youth.

Village of Goshen: Jay Jonas, FDNY

The Village of Goshen has nominated Jay Jonas in appreciation and respect for his 30 years of service with the Minisink Hook and Ladder Company #1 Goshen Fire Department and for his 40-years of service with FDNY. He is Deputy Chief in Command of the 7th Division in the Bronx, overseeing six battalions in the Bronx and Manhattan. Jay is one of 22 who survived the collapse of the North Tower during the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, while serving as Captain of Ladder Co. No. 6 in Chinatown. His poignant story has inspired and touched the lives of many. His courage and leadership on 9/11 and in the long and difficult days that followed are a testament to his character and commitment.

Jay continues to serve the Goshen Fire Department as a member, holding the rank of Captain. Jay became the Goshen Fire Department Training Officer and he was instrumental in starting the first FAST (Fire Assist and Search Team). Jay is known for leading by example, and for being known as someone that shares words of encouragement to new members...Joe truly loves training new members and showing them "the tricks of the trade.

Town of Hamptonburgh: James Ballard, Otterkill Fire Department

James is honored and recognized tonight for his 54 years of service with the Otterkill Fire District. He also worked as a Police Officer, predominantly on the midnight shift for 26 years. James joined the Campbell Hall Fire Department on April 26, 1965. James Ballard was Chief of the Fire Department from 1990-1994 and again from 2010- 2014. James was the Assistant Chief in 1986-1989, and from 2005-2009. He served as Captain from 1974-1984 and 2000-2004. James was the Department Firefighter of the Year in 1995 and 2015 and he also received a life saver award. James is a 2nd Generation Member of the Fire Department and has been a Dairy Farmer for 35 years. Many people have remarked on James dedication to his community and department since his nomination has been made public. Our office has received outreach noting it would not be a normal day at the firehouse or emergency call if James wasn’t there. He is deeply respected and admired.

Town of Highlands: Don Smith, Ft. Montgomery Fire Department

Don Smith started his volunteer firefighter career with Accord Fire Department Co. #1 in Ulster County for approximately 7 years then moved to Orange County and joined Highland Falls Fire Department for 5 years where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Don then moved to Fort Montgomery in 2005 and joined the FMFD. He diligently worked his way through the ranks, fairly quickly, and he has served as Chief for nearly 10 years. Don is the longest running Chief to date for the FMFD. Under Don’s leadership, membership with the FMFD is strong and growing. On training nights and even on minor calls 15 to 20 members routinely attend and during more significant things going on attendance is well above those numbers. Don has helped to successfully secure well over $500,000 in grants for the department. Don states that it is rewarding when you get the funding needed to do projects around the firehouse or purchase needed equipment for the members to be successful to do the task at hand safely and efficiently.

Village of Highland Falls: Arla James, Highland Falls Fire Department

The village has nominated Arla James of the Highland Falls Fire Department to receive the Salute to First Responders Recognition. Arla was born in the Philippines, the oldest of 7 children and worked a variety of jobs to help support her parents - who she credits with teaching her the value of hard work.

In 2005 Arla met and married her husband Tony and they moved to the United States, and she had her son Christopher Alex James. Arla became a US citizen in 2014 after working for a family that was officers in the US Army. She was inspired by their example, and wanted to become a US Citizen. Shortly after, Arla’s husband Tony passed away and Arla became a single mother. After receiving an outpouring of support from the Highland Falls Community, Arla wanted to find a way to give back. A variety of volunteer experiences in the community led her to the Highland Falls Fire Department. After completing the exterior course, Arla entered the Firefighter 1 course which she states was “extremely demanding because not only was she the shortest one there, she was the oldest. “I was often bruised and bloodied but I pushed myself with the encouragement of the other firefighters in the course that encouraged her to persevere. In June of 2018 Arla graduated the course.

Town of New Windsor: Matthew Monahan, New Windsor Police Department

The Town of New Windsor Police Department has nominated Officer Matthew Monahan to receive the Salute to First Responder Recognition. Officer Monahan is a lifelong Orange County resident, happily married to Samantha Monahan. They have two sons, Owen and Briar. After graduating from SUNY New Paltz, Matthew started a law enforcement career in 2013 with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. In 2015 he transferred to the New Windsor Police Department, where he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2018. Officer Monahan received numerous awards for Narcotic arrests throughout his career including an arrest with 500 decks of Heroin recovered and another arrest with 170 bags of PCP recovered.

In 2018 Officer Monahan received an excellent Police Duty award for having over 5 felony arrests in 2018. This same year Officer Monahan received a lifesaving award when on patrol he came across a motor vehicle fully engulfed in smoke, and fire emanating from the engine. Officer Monahan heard a voice crying out for help, and broke the side window and dragged the male occupant out of the vehicle which was subsequently completely destroyed by fire.

Town of Blooming Grove: Raymond Phillips, FDNY posthumously

The town of Blooming Grove has unanimously nominated the late and very much beloved Raymond Phillips, the Past Chief of the South Blooming Grove Fire Department to receive this year’s Salute to First Responder Award. Ray was a longtime resident of the community and served as a member of FDNY, Rescue 3, in the Bronx for 26 years, from 1977-2003. Ray was a First Responder at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. In addition to his service with FDNY, Ray was a firefighter and company officer and Chief of South Blooming Grove Fire Department from 1990-2017. Ray was an enthusiastic “Santa’s Helper” for the FDNY widows and children's foundation for 35 years. He served as Treasurer of Battalion 5 in Orange County and member of OCVFA and then a member of Orange County Retired Firefighters Association. Ray was an active member of St. Mary’s Parish, and Vice-President of the Holy Name Society for FDNY. Ray was a loving husband to his wife Maureen (who is here with us tonight) , and proud and loving father to Raymond, Brian and Courtney. We are honored to present this award in his memory and with gratitude for his life of service.

Town of Stony Point: Nicholas Attolino, Wayne Hose Co. Fire Department

Nick joined the Stony Point Wayne Hose Fire Co. #1 23 years ago, and is currently the Chief.

Chief Attolino is a seasoned veteran that is known to lead by example. Chief Attolino is a Certified Master Rescue Diver, a member of the swift water rescue team, an ice rescue Tec, and rescue swimmer. In addition to the fire rescue duties - Nick served as a driver, and a line officer for the past 14 years. As Chief, he is currently in charge of approximately 100 volunteer firefighters, and the Town Board notes that the Chief is an outstanding member of the community to the members of the Stony Point Fire Department and to the residents of Stony Point. For the past 20 years, each Super-Bowl Sunday, Nick and over 100 other swimmers, including Assemblyman Schmitt, enter the freezing Hudson River to raise money for children in the Stony Point Community that are afflicted with serious illnesses. Chief Attolino has been recognized for diving into the Hudson River to rescue a drowning boater.

Village of Washingtonville: Charles Martin, Washingtonville Police Department

Officer Charles Martin currently serves as the School Resource Officer for Washingtonville High School.

His history in law enforcement began when he joined the NYPD in 1997. Officer Martin served in New York City during the 9/11 attacks on our nation. In 2002 Officer Martin joined the Blooming Grove Police Department where he worked for 3.5 years and then in 2005 he joined the Washingtonville PD. Charlie, as many know him by, worked for 22 years on Midnights while raising 3 kids, Meaghan, Erin, and Christopher, with his wife, Joann. In addition to his life of service as a First Responder, Officer Martin volunteered as a coach for both girls and boys soccer, and coached youth wrestling and football, and boasts that he, along with other dads in the community, led their team to the 2009 Division 4 Youth Super Bowl Championship Team.

Town of Wawayanda: Halsey Decker, Wawayanda Fire Company

The town recognizes Halsey Decker for dedicating his entire adult life to the Fire Services in the Town that he still lives in-Slate Hill. Halsey joined the Wawayanda Volunteer Fire Department in 1964. He currently continues as an active member of the department, after 55 years. His father, Halsey R. Decker, Sr. was a founding member of that department and was a past Fire Chief as well. After following in his father’s footsteps and joining the Wawayanda Volunteer Fire Department, Halsey went up the ranks from Lieutenant, 2nd Assistant Chief, 1st Assistant Chief, and became Fire Chief, serving as Chief for 13 years. In 1993 Chief Decker became the Orange County Deputy Fire Coordinator - Car 17 and has served in this role for the past 26 years. He was the Commissioner of the Slate Hill Fire District, is an active member of the NYS Fireman’s Association, Past President of the Orange County Fire Chiefs Association. Halsey is a member of the Hudson Valley Fireman’s Association, Orange County Volunteer Fireman’s Association and the Middletown Veteran’s Fireman’s Association. He’s presently the town of Wawayanda’s 911 Numbering Coordinator since 1990.

Town of Woodbury: Michael Gironda, Town of Woodbury Dispatcher

Michael has served as a Dispatcher for Woodbury Police Department for 17 years. Michael is also a member of the Montgomery Fire Department. Michael’s journey as a first responder began in 1988 as an 18 year old young man that wanted to learn everything he could. After joining the Montgomery Fire Dept. he quickly climbed the ladder, rising from the role of firefighter to Captain within 12 years. He is currently the Department President and Safety Officer. Michael’s law enforcement work began in the Town of Newburgh where he worked as a dispatcher before joining Orange County 911 as a dispatcher. He joined the Woodbury Police Department in 2002 and Officials from the Town of Woodbury honor him for his work as an outstanding dispatcher. In 2014 Michael received his license for Amateur Radio and is active with the Orange County Amateur Radio Emergency Service who voluntarily register their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.

Village of Woodbury: Ben Conques, Woodbury Community Ambulance

The village of Woodbury honors Ben for his 38 years of service with Woodbury Community Ambulance. Ben joined the all-volunteer Woodbury Community Ambulance in July 1982 as an Advanced First Aider - at the urging of his Wife Patricia who had joined in 1981 (underscoring what is said about behind every good a good woman!) Since then Ben has served Woodbury EMS for 3 years a First Aider/ Driver and for 34 years as an EMT. He served 2 years as Trustee, 3 years as President and 29 years as Captain. Captain Conques has responded to over 5,500 emergencies. He is a delegate to the Orange County Emergency Medical Services Council and the Hudson Valley Regional Emergency Services Council. He is an instructor for the Orange County Division of Emergency Medical Services helping to train future EMTs.

District Organization Nominee: N.Y.C Retired Firefighters of Orange County

The New York City Retired Firefighters of Orange County is the premier FDNY retiree group in the nation. This fraternal organization actively advocates on behalf of FDNY retirees and their families. Through community focused efforts, political activism and individual assistance the members have made their presence known in Orange County and the surrounding region. After serving with honor, integrity and bravery for years on the FDNY, these retirees continue the brotherhood well past their service in the firehouse. The group’s annual 9-11 Memorial Ceremony held in Washingtonville each year is the largest such annual remembrance in the entire region. Without advertising hundreds of firemen active and retired, family and community members join for a solemn salute to the hero 343 FDNY brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9-11-01 and the over 200 who have since perished due to 9-11 related illnesses. The New York City Retired Firefighters of Orange County and the Hudson Valley show the dedication these men exhibit in uniform extends beyond work hours and their final tour and is the core of who these heroes are. Role models to look up to and seek out for help for life.

Assemblyman Schmitt stated, “I am honored to be able to host this inaugural Salute to First Responders event to thank our heroes who have dedicated their lives to protecting us. While others are running away from danger, our Salute to First Responders honorees run toward it. In the most difficult and trying times our communities count on our first responders to keep us safe and fix whatever emergency we may be facing. The men and women we honor with the inaugural Salute to First Responders awards did not seek out recognition and praise, they earned it. Our cops, firemen, EMS, dispatchers and all in the first responder community active or retired, paid or volunteer deserve our thanks and praise. Our honorees represent the best of the best our Assembly District has to offer and we will be forever grateful to them.”

Colin Schmitt is committed to public service. Colin is a member of the U.S. Army National Guard and Assemblyman for the 99th NYS Assembly District which includes the Town of Stony Point in Rockland and The Towns of Wawayanda, Goshen, Hamptonburgh, Chester, Blooming Grove, New Windsor, Cornwall, Highlands and Woodbury. Colin lives in the Town of New Windsor with his wife Nikki and their beloved adopted Catahoula puppy Quincy!