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Photos by Julian Gill

Fire department highlights employees at awards banquet

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By Julian Gill
Julian Gill
Julian Gill

Capt. Mark Whiddon was named Officer of the Year at the Denton Fire Department’s annual awards ceremony on Saturday at the University of North Texas Union.

Whiddon was one of four employees who received special awards, including Rookie of the Year, Employee of the Year and Firefighter of the Year.

Fire Chief Robin Paulsgrove said he nominated Whiddon for the award because he’s the best firefighter he knows, and he has intimate knowledge of the position.

“He expects nothing of his crew that he will not first do himself,” Paulsgrove said as he addressed the audience.

Firefighter Gerald Friend was named Rookie of the Year because he is a “great example of the kind of character the community expects from our profession,” Paulsgrove said.

Friend is a motivator during each shift and goes above and beyond expectations on a daily basis, Paulsgrove said.

The Employee of the Year award went to Dinora Velasquez, an administrator who played a key role in organizing the department’s yearbook. She also helped the department transition to a new timekeeping system for firefighters, Paulsgrove said, describing her work as tireless.

And Hunter Lott was named Firefighter of the Year. Paulsgrove, who read a list of 10 reasons why Lott was nominated for the honor, said he is a firefighter every other employee can learn from.

He is a diligent worker who doesn’t talk down to others when he explains skills, ideas or training, Paulsgrove said.