CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Gov. Jim Justice and his Department of Homeland Security are honoring the commitment of county emergency managers with West Virginia Freedom Awards.
Launched in 2020, the awards recognize emergency officials in six categories: lifesaving, innovation, teamwork, perseverance, leadership, and lifetime achievement.
“Through their dedication to service, these men and women are among the first to run to the fire,” said Justice. “They have helped lead their county’s response through the COVID-19 pandemic while responding to flooding and any other emergencies that arise.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy announced the awards during Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the West Virginia Emergency Management Council. The 2021 honorees will be given the Freedom Pin, developed by Sandy in 2017.
“With this award, we seek to recognize the commitment of emergency managers who go above and beyond to keep our citizens safe,” Sandy said. “The men and women who are called to emergency management spend countless hours preparing for natural and manmade disasters to protect our communities.”
DHS coordinates with 55 county and three city emergency management agencies through the Emergency Management Division, overseen by Director G.E. McCabe.
“I am forever grateful to our emergency managers’ commitment to service,” said McCabe. “Their diligence to assuring the safety of our citizens and communities is made clear through action every day.”
The 2021 honorees:
Lifesaving: Director Tim Farley, Mercer County Office of Emergency Management. Director Farley was the Mercer County Emergency Services Director from 2005 to the time of his death in January 2021. He worked tirelessly as an emergency manager and fire chief to help protect and save the lives of those in Mercer County and across the state.
Innovation: Director Michael Mayhorn, Boone County Emergency Management and 911. Beginning his career with Boone County in 2008 as a part-time 911 Telecommunicator, Director Mayhorn works constantly to develop innovative ways to better emergency management in Boone County and throughout the state.
Teamwork: Deputy Director Dick Myers, Jefferson County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. A native of Morgan County, Deputy Director Myers is always willing to travel to other counties to help in times of disaster and need.
He served as the Morgan County director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the last 7 years before accepting the position as deputy director of Jefferson County this month.
Perseverance: Director Richard Rose, Webster County Emergency Management and 911. Director Rose has shown great perseverance through many challenges in an area of the state that continues recovery from catastrophic disasters.
He has served as Director of Webster County Emergency Management and 911 since March 2006, and currently serves as captain for the Webster Springs Volunteer Fire Department.
Leadership: Director Lou Vargo, Wheeling–Ohio County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. With more than 30 years of experience in emergency management, Director Vargo has shown great leadership in emergency management in Ohio County and to surrounding counties, including those in nearby Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“I’m honored that the Governor and Homeland Security Secretary have recognized the tireless efforts of these dedicated county emergency managers,” said Dean Meadows, President of the West Virginia Emergency Management Council. “So much of what they do on a daily basis goes unnoticed, so to see them recognized by our prestigious state leaders is a great tribute.”
About the Freedom Pin
The Freedom Pin honors the brave men and women who have died in the line of duty since the state was formed in 1863. As of December 2021, 140 members of the Department have perished protecting the freedoms of West Virginia’s citizens.
The Freedom Pin is issued to the families of deceased heroes and to federal, state, county, and city employees and citizens who have excelled in protecting West Virginia from dangers to our way of life due to natural and man-made disasters and threats both foreign and domestic.
More about the 2021 recipients:
Tim Farley was the Mercer County Emergency Services Director from 2005 to the time of his death. His life was devoted to service through the volunteer fire department and helping in all forms of disaster mitigation and preparedness. Farley was a member of the first class to graduate from the West Virginia Emergency Management Basic Academy in 2019.
Farley also served as the floodplain coordinator for Mercer County, ensuring no structures were placed within the floodplain and making sure mitigation measures were taken to reduce flood damages.
He was extremely helpful to his emergency management counterparts in other counties. Always willing to assist, he traveled through the state to aid fellow emergency managers or assist in an exercise or drill.
Farley graduated from Spanishburg High School where he excelled as an athlete, leading his basketball team to its first ever 20-0 record. He was named to the West Virginia All-State Conference team and later continued his basketball career at Bluefield State College while earning a dual degree in electrical engineering and business management.
He was instrumental in establishing the Bluestone Valley Fire Department, serving as a founding charter member as well as the chief of the fire department until his passing.
Until his last day spent making sure a COVID-19 vaccination clinic ran smoothly, Farley’s was a life truly devoted to service.
Michael Mayhorn is the director of Emergency Management and 911 for Boone County. Beginning his career in 2008 as a part-time 911 telecommunicator, he has served in various capacities within the agency.
Mayhorn is a 2008 graduate of Scott High School in Madison, and studied Information Technology at Western Governors University. He graduated in 2019 from the FEMA Basic Emergency Management Academy and is a Certified Floodplain Manager with the Association of State Floodplain managers.
In 2018, Mayhorn completed training to be a fusion liaison officer for the West Virginia Fusion Center. He volunteers for the Danville Volunteer Fire Department as an administrative member, helping with IT and radio programming. He serves as the recorder for the Region Six Regional Interoperable Committee.
Dick Myers is a Morgan County native who has spent his entire adult life working in the field of emergency services in both volunteer and professional capacities.
After graduating from Berkeley Springs High School in 1985, he joined the Morgan County Rescue Service and began training. He became a full-time EMT in 1995.
A public servant at heart, he joined the Berkeley Springs Fire Department in 1991. He was a very active member in both organizations and served in several officer positions. For many years, he was one of the top responders in both organizations.
Obtaining his paramedic license from Shepherd University in 2001, Myers worked as a professional firefighter/paramedic in Frederick County, Virginia until his retirement in 2012, when he returned to work with 911 in Morgan County.
Myers has worked as director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the last 6 years. During that time, he earned an Associate’s Degree from Blue Ridge Community College.
Richard Rose is the director of Emergency Management and 911 in Webster County and has served in this position since March 2006.
He is a 1990 graduate of Webster County High School and has since been involved with emergency services. Obtaining his paramedic certification from Fairmont State College in 1993, Rose currently serves as captain for the Webster Springs VFD.
Rose has attended the FEMA Emergency Management Institute for several classes, including the first Basic Emergency Management Academy courses in West Virginia and has obtained the W.Va. Emergency Manager Level 3 certification.
Lou Vargo is the director of the Wheeling–Ohio County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, where he has also served as deputy director. He has more than 30 years of experience in emergency management in West Virginia and Ohio. Vargo is the director of the Ohio County Emergency Medical Service, where he serves as a paramedic.
Vargo received a Master of Science degree in community health management from the School of Medicine at West Virginia University and a Bachelor of Science degree in anesthesia from the former Wheeling College. He has served as director of Nurse Anesthesia for both Wheeling Hospital and the former Ohio Valley Medical Center.
Certified in Basic Disaster Life Support and Operations Disaster Life Support through the American Medical Association, Vargo is also a certified hazardous materials technician and incident commander. He is an American Heart Association Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor.
Vargo has served as fire chief for the Mt. Pleasant, Ohio VFD and was instrumental in establishing the Wheeling Fire Department’s Advanced Life Support program serving as its first pre-hospital care advisor.
He has been an EMS, fire, and rescue instructor since 1978 and teaches disaster management courses, EMS, and hazardous materials response courses. He has co-authored chapters of the Ohio Victim Rescue Manual in Heavy Equipment Rescue and Technical Rescue.
Vargo is also a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety Committee in Pittsburgh, Pa., and a member of the West Virginia Health Care Coalition Region 10/11.