To start off, as Bob Hope sang for so many the years, “Thanks for the Memory”.
Unlike a lot of people who have were born here or have been here for many more years, I moved to Allen from the state of Ohio in 1997. Our house was built in Beacon Hill on the west side. That was when McDermott was a 2-lane road.
It was in 2003 when I registered for the Allen Citizens Fire Academy. Class #2 of CFA was definitely an educational experience, but also a uniquely fun class as well. Some say that it’s still being talked about to this day in subsequent CFA classes. It was then that I met Linda Greenidge, Public Education Coordinator, more commonly known as “LG”, we called her “Fire Mom”. We all know her role in the Allen Fire Department, but she became a dear friend to my wife and me and has been so for several years. I guess it was then that I got the ‘fire bug’.
In 2005, Linda came to me and said Chief Hawley wanted to start a CERT program…….whatever that was. Linda had already gone through a Train-the-trainer class; therefore, Joey Herald and I went to Garland for 3 days and went through the TTT class as well. As Allen CERT would later be known for their exceptional performance along the years, Joey and I initially started this trend during one of the TTT classes by performing an extraction exercise under conditions in which we were not expected to accomplish. Through several planning sessions, Linda Greenidge, Joey Herald and I started the Allen CERT program and held our first class in the Fall of 2006.
In 2007, many personal changes occurred, and I moved to the east side. Moving from the west side to the east gave me a wider experience in the city’s topology. My wife Charie has been by my side and so supportive of everything I have been involved with in the City of Allen including her participation as well.
Allen CERT was initially established under the Prevention Division of the Fire Department under the Fire Marshal due to its education value in prevention and responding. However, after the program’s first actual response in April of 2008 when an EF-0 tornado went through Allen, the program was transferred to the Operations Division under the auspices of C-Shift Battalion and Administrative Captain.
Due to favorable circumstances, Charie and I decided to buy her parent’s property an hour away in Scurry (Kaufman County) in 2013. It consisted of a main house, guest/rent house, utility barn and a pond on 8 acres. We continued to maintain it as we had since 2009. It was our intention to eventually move there at some point in time, assuming around my retirement time frame. Her parents would continue to live there as long as they wanted. Not knowing when our move would take place, I decided to find a coordinator replacement who had the same passion and drive for the CERT program as I had over the years. That person was Chris Diltz. Our transition over the period of a year went like clockwork. He not only took this volunteer position eagerly and effectively, but greatly improved it and modernized the program. It had been a blessing and a privilege to have served as Allen CERT Coordinator for the previous 10 years.
In addition to continuing to assist LG in many of the CFA classes, in 2014 I found myself once again working with her with the newly forming Allen Rehab Team (ART). The Rehab Team is the team of CFA members that have agreed to respond to incidents that require the Heavy Rescue vehicle to be called out. My involvement started out with reviewing the new policies and procedure manual, continued work with other members and Station 5 with numerous practice scenarios and familiarization training on the Heavy Rescue. Then several of us ended up responding to a number of live fires. As an Allen Rehab Team member, our team volunteered to assist the AFD by supporting our firefighters, as well as surrounding city’s firefighters, with aid and comfort during any incident of sufficient magnitude and duration warranting the need for the support services provided by the Rehab Team and Heavy Rescue.
August of 2018 brought us a new Fire Chief, Jonathan Boyd. I knew and respected Chief Boyd for years at the Fire Department when he handled training and many other duties and was excited to see him take over this new role.
Most recently, through gentle persuasion from good friend Tammy Ingram, it was also a privilege and honor to serve on the board of the Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association of Allen, TX with her, Ken Seggerman and Lynne Hogan. I had been on the board when the non-profit organization was formed but took a break from it to support CERT. Being involved in the first CFA Fundraiser Dinner in 2018 was also a treat. Speaking of Ken, he and his wife Margaret, being our wonderful neighbors, have also been involved in CFA since Class #1 and have shown their support for the Fire Department as volunteers all these years.
On a personal side, in January 2017, Charie’s dad went home to be with the Lord and then her mother followed in October of 2018. With that, we decided to start the process of taking the 26-year old house and having some substantial interior remodeling done. This started around Christmas of last year. Great progress has been made removing a dated ceiling style throughout and five rooms of wallpaper, applying texturing and painting the entire interior and laying of tile and laminate throughout the house.
Along with the building of strong relationships with the so many Allen Fire-Rescue personnel over the years, I also met a number of awesome personnel with law enforcement. I initially met Chief Brian Harvey with the Allen Police Department during his orientation in 2012 and was impressed with him from the start. I continued to have discussions with him in person and via email. Along with Chief Harvey, I also met Collin County Jim Skinner and had discussions with him. I also met and had great conversations with other Allen Police officers. Just as with the Allen Fire-Rescue, I’ve always appreciated their service.
Many other city employees made great impressions with me, such as Mayor Stephen Terrell. City Manager Peter Vargas, several council members, ACTV’s Executive Producer Mark Kaufman and his staff, to name a few. From an AFD administrative perspective, Shauna Body has always been a big help as well through the years.
With so many Allen Fire Department, Citizens Fire Academy, CERT and Rehab administrative and member friendships built through years here in Allen, the closeness from a geographic perspective will be greatly missed.
With the remodeling of the house in Scurry, our planned move is the end of February 2019. While it is was relatively easy to transition the CERT program over to Chris, leaving Allen after 20 years is a bit difficult. However, my wife and I are very excited about the upcoming move as a ‘New Chapter’ in our lives. My cell number and email address will remain [contact admin] and [contact admin]. As of March of this year, we will be residing at [contact admin].
So, with all that said, to continue quoting from the song Bob Hope sang, “Thank you so much”.