Montgomery is a village that clearly appreciates its emergency responders and waived flags to prove it last Friday.
Several hundred gathered at the intersection of Tompkins Road, Robert Street and Goodwill Road in the village last Friday evening for the unveiling of street signs that proclaimed the intersection as First Responders Way. Among the attendees were uniformed police officers and firefighters, and member of the Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps with one of their rigs.
“Many times, First Responders are put on the back shelves by their municipality,” said Village Trustee Mike Hembury, who served as master of ceremonies. “Not here.”
Hembury had a career in law enforcement, having served 21 years in the City of Newburgh Police Department.
Hembury said he was especially proud that the village had been honored as one of the “top 10 safest small towns and villages in America.” That distinction comes courtesy of CCTV Camera World, a manufacturer of security camera and surveillance systems, that conducted its own survey earlier this year and ranked Montgomery 75th on the list. In 2019, the village was ranked 74th in a survey conducted by another home security system manufacturer.
Despite the good news, Hembury said police murders were up 59 percent this year.
At Friday’s ceremony, spectators were given miniature flags. Some received the Blue Line Flag, a black and white replica of an American flag with a single blue stripe right below the field of stars. The Blue Line flag is associated with Blue Lives Matter Movement, started after the homicides of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, on December 20, 2014. Others received a red line flag, meant to honor firefighters. Hembury said 1,250 of the flags were delivered in pieces, with the cloth attached to the sticks by his wife and grandchildren.
“This corner will always have flags,” Hembury said.
Similar to Veterans Corner, also on Goodwill Road, First Responders Corner will have two large flags attached to utility poles with miniature flags, free for the taking, also attached. When the supply of miniatures flags runs low, the poles will be re-stocked.
At the ceremony, several individuals were invited to unveil the first of two signs. That first group included:
- Stephanie Cockburn, a dispatcher with the village police department. Her husband Chris died in the line of duty as a village of Florida, NY police officer last year. His name was added to the police memorial wall in Washington, DC this past May.
- Darlene Andolsek, a village trustee and past fire commissioner. Her husband Roger was the past fire chief.
- Brian Briere, a retired 20 year military veteran, and a sergeant with the Village of Montgomery Police Department.
- Robert Reynolds Jr., Montgomery fire chief and a police officer in both the Walden and Village of Montgomery Police Departments.
- Julie Wallace, whose fire fighter husband Charlie was killed in the line of duty in 2015 directing traffic in front of the Montgomery fire house on Route 17K, during a fire call.
- Krystal Shorette, a registered nurse and a member of the Montgomery Ambulance Corps, who heard on her scanner a 911 call that a neighbor’s daughter was having some sort of seizure. She ran to the scene and attended to the child before the ambulance rig arrived.
Also remembered was Al Ronaldson, a village resident who was killed in the line of duty while serving in the New York City Fire Department.