MASON — Superlatives chosen by the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 of Mason went on to win both state and national awards, it was announced during the Awards Day Dinner on Sunday.
The event was held in the picnic shelter of the V.F.W. post, in place of the Loyalty Day Dinner normally held in May. The Loyalty Day event was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Both Elisabeth Lloyd, EMT of the Year, and Steven Sigman, Firefighter of the Year, advanced in competition and were named state and national V.F.W. winners in their respective categories.
Lloyd is a shift supervisor and county community involvement coordinator with the Mason County EMS, where she began her career in 1998. She has also been recognized as the West Virginia OEMS EMT of the Year. Married to Jason Lloyd, they have several children in their blended family, including Gavin Frush, Byron Bryant, and Allison, Alexis, Kaitlin and Ashlee Lloyd.
Sigman has been a member of the New Haven and Community Fire Department since 1995. He has been secretary of the department twice, as well as lieutenant. Sigman and wife, Laurel, have four children, Tori, Kloe, Cole and Beau.
Melissa Bledsoe, the post’s High School Teacher of the Year, and Kira Northup, Elementary School Teacher of the Year, both went on to win state awards.
Bledsoe is a math teacher at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School. She started Mu Alpha Theta, a mathematical honor society at the school. Bledsoe is co-vice president of the school academic boosters, and an instructor for Patch.
Northup is a fifth grade teacher at New Haven Elementary School, and has also been chosen as the Horace Mann Exceptional Teacher for NHES, and chosen twice for the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio “Excellence in Teaching” Award. She is the assistant coach for the Wahama Junior High Volleyball team. Northup and her husband, Nick, have four children, Emma, Elijah, Chloe, and a foster son.
Colton McKinney was recognized as the local V.F.W. Police Officer of the Year. He is chief of the Mason Police Department, taking the helm in June 2018. McKinney also served as a sergeant and officer in the Mason department, as well as an officer with the Point Pleasant Police Department. He is head coach for the Wahama Junior High Football and Wrestling teams. He and fiancé, Ashley McGill, have two daughters in their blended family, Adalynn Rae McGill and Paislynn Grace McKinney, and are expecting a son, Braxton Gary-Lee McKinney.
Two students were recognized at the event, including David Kapp, son of Jimmy and Beth Kapp, who won the Voice of Democracy essay contest on the local level. He is a student at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School. Emma Northup, daughter of Nick and Kira Northup, was the post’s Patriot’s Pen essay contest winner. She is a student at Wahama High School.
In addition, Doug Huff was named the post Substitute Teacher of the Year, and Kathy Edwards won third place in the state for the West Virginia V.F.W. Auxiliary Mentoring Program.
The Letart Nature Park Development Organization, represented by Marilyn Kearns, was presented a certificate on behalf of the V.F.W. The organization was recognized for its work in bringing veteran displays to the area.
Ray Varian served as master of ceremonies. He recognized Dennis Zimmerman, Mason County Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, who was in attendance, as well as Jim Talerico of the Potomac Highlands Wounded Warrior Outreach program. Varian also introduced Ronie Wheeler, guest speaker, whose topic was “loyalty.”
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.