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Charlie Conley was startled to hear his name called at a recent Dry Ridge City Council meeting.
Sitting in the crowd with his fellow firefighters, he had no idea Chief Robert Bruin had been planning to honor him for his 30 years of volunteer service.
“He says it’s been longer,” Bruin said. “But, when they kept track with bricks and charcoal, we really couldn’t get his records.”
“I think that’s quite an accomplishment to make it 30 years,” he said. “I know I’ll never make it 30 years. I won’t be as in good of shape as him. But, thank you, Charlie, for doing it. I think the city owes you a big debt.”
The chief displayed a banner recognizing Charlie’s three decades of dedication that will hang in the station.
A smaller banner was given to Charlie, who was surprised again by the presence of his wife, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren at the meeting.
“I was very surprised. I had no idea,” said Charlie, the department’s safety chief. “It was an honor. I’m sentimental when it comes to things like that. It jerked some tears out of me.”
Mayor Clay Crupper said he was honored to have people like Charlie on the fire department.
Councilman Encil Webster was fire chief when Charlie first started volunteering his time for the community.
“I was glad to get him then and he was always a true and loyal fireman,” Webster said. “He did anything you asked him to do anytime. He gave his all. I’m real proud.”
Charlie said the department is like family.
“A neighbor got me into it when I moved to Grant County,” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since. I’ll be there as long as I can stay. I’ll stay as long as they let me.”