Elks honor local first responders during event

MILFORD — The Elks in Milford took a different approach to Valentine’s Day this year.

With love in the air, local Elks members gathered Friday night for a sweetheart’s dinner and the recognition of two first responders.

“We have never done this before and if we have it’s been years and years,” Cyndee Sammons began. “Tonight, we’re honoring two of our own servicemen. It is very important in this day and age to honor our first responders.”

After a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Ms. Sammons brought Charles Vanaman to the podium.

“Charlie’s an old-timer when it comes to firefighting,” she chuckled.

Mr. Vanaman joined the Carlisle Fire Company June 1, 1972. Just two years after he began, he was honored by his peers with the award of fireman of the year, an award he also received later in 2008. After twenty years of service, he received life membership status in 1993.

“For the past 27 years, Charlie has been awarded yearly with firefighter with the most alarms, engineer with the most alarms or line officer with the most alarms. Charlie was elected by his peers as fire chief in 1981–1982, 2002–2004, 2007–2009 and 2013. He has served on the board of directors, held the positions of line officer and deputy chief and actively served on the ambulance and numerous committees,” Ms. Sammons said.

The firefighter has now served 45 years of active service to the Carlisle Fire Company, dedicating his life to community members in and around the Milford area.

“On a daily basis, he devotes much energy towards ensuring that fire apparatus gets out during an alarm, as well as overseeing the alarm and firefighting,” she told the crowd. “Charlie is best known for his character, dedication, energy and dependably. He believes that being a volunteer firefighter is the best kind of service you can do for your neighbors and community. Charlie has proved an asset to both the company and the community.”

Spreading the love to a different group of first responders, Ms. Sammons introduced Sgt. Robert Masten as the Elks’ next honoree.

“Better known as Robbie by all of his buddies, he’s another very, very dedicated man that works very hard to protect and serve the community of Milford. We so appreciate our police,” she said. “Know that you have a huge following from every single Elks member in this lodge.”

Sgt. Masten was hired as a patrolman by the Milford Police Department in 2002 while attending and graduating from the Delaware State Police Academy. Since then, he rose to his current rank in 2015.

“That is very quick and very honorable,” Ms. Sammons said.

He now serves as a school resource officer and is in charge of Milford Police Department’s community policing unit which, she added, is extremely important in the community.

The Milford High School graduate also serves as a public information officer and maintains the department’s social media pages. He is responsible for organizing and participating in community outreach programs and the the National Night Out in Milford, according to Ms. Sammons.

“I do not think we honor our first responders enough. They work hard for us. We should show them our appreciation. The Elks Lodge is grateful for the opportunity to do that,” Ms. Sammons said.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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