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Roswell pays tribute to first responders

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Five of the six people receiving awards at the First Responders Memorial and Recognition Breakfast Saturday are shown with their plaques. From left are Roswell Police Patrol Officer Cassandra Juarez, Chaves County Sheriff’s Deputy Dallas McDaniel, Lt. Jamie Dale Higgins of the Roswell Fire Department, Superior Ambulance paramedic Miranda Dutchover and Hobbs Police Officer Reanna Molinaro. Cpt. Michael Brisco of the Roswell Correctional Center did not attend the event. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Event also memorializes September 2001 attacks

A sizable crowd gathered Saturday morning at the Elks Lodge to honor first responders during a tribute breakfast that has become a Roswell tradition and is held in early September as a remembrance of the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I stand here in support of each one of our veterans and each one of you who are out there every single day,” said Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, one of several speakers at the First Responders Memorial and Recognition Breakfast Ceremony organized by the Elks Lodge No. 969. “We appreciate the work that is being done right here in Roswell, New Mexico. Because when we get right down to it, we know it is about family. We know it is about community and we know it’s about love.”

He said that living a life of service — defined by actions rather than words and by compassion and kindness — is the best type of activity that people can pursue.

Morales also expressed his sympathies to those at the breakfast who are friends and family of Jeff Stroble, a longtime firefighter who passed away July 21 due to injuries from a June 5 explosion.

“There is nothing I can say that will ease the pain you are experiencing,” said Morales, “but what I can say is that the life that he lived was a life of significance and a life of service and a life of love.”

Other people giving remarks at the breakfast included Pastor Kenny Lewis of Grace Community Church and a former paramedic; Mayor Dennis Kintigh, a former law enforcement officer; Elks Lodge President Scott Montgomery, emcee of the event; Elks Lodge officer Denise Dawson, who read an essay about the 9/11 event as well as a tribute letter to first responders sent by U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small; and Tim Jennings, a former state representative and Elks Lodge member, who introduced Morales.

Songs of tribute were performed by Hobbs Police Officer and 2015 “American Idol” contestant Reanna Molinaro, the Goddard High School Stargazers led by Mary Gonzalez and local musician Tom Blake. Cadets from the New Mexico National Guard Youth Academy presented the colors.

In addition, the Elks Lodge presented the Roswell Fire Department with a donation. The exact amount was not known, as it will include the proceeds from the breakfast. Six people also were honored for outstanding service.

Cpt. Michael Brisco, a 15-year employee at the Roswell Correctional Center of the New Mexico Corrections Department, was recognized for his mentoring of staff, his service as a volunteer firefighter and his role as a father. Miranda Dutchover, a Superior Ambulance paramedic since 2015, was described as compassionate and the type of person who helped cover shifts for co-workers when needed and worked to solve problems no matter how difficult.

Roswell Fire Department Lt. Jamie Dale Higgins was described as a person with good leadership abilities who has gone above and beyond, especially when it came to vehicle repairs and maintenance and encouraging others in his crews. Roswell Police Officer Cassandra Juarez, with the department since December 2017, was recognized for taking on extra shifts and working late, for being proactive and driven, and for having an exceptional work attitude.

Chaves County Sheriff’s Deputy Dallas McDaniel, a former Roswell Police officer with 35 years in law enforcement who now works for the District Court Security Division, was described as a person of “untiring devotion, dedication and pride to his job” as well as a family man of “integrity and loyalty.” Hobbs Police Officer Reanna Molinaro received a special achievement award for her “demonstration of compassion in her personal and professional life,” her willingness to volunteer and promote the profession, and her dedication to the safety of the Hobbs community.

Elks officer and state trustee Jack Finlay said the breakfast started 11 years ago and has been held for many years since that time.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.