The Hamilton City Hall community room was filled with uniformed officers, emergency personnel and their families Friday, March 4, as the annual Masonic Lodge #38 "First Responder" awards were presented to five officers and volunteers. They were chosen by each department for their roles in keeping the Bitterroot Valley safe.

The honorees were given plaques

The people who were honored Friday afternoon were:

Montana High Patrol

MHP trooper Andrew Barbera. Barbera has been patroling the valley since 2020. Detachment Commander for the valley Sgt. Scott Bennett mentioned Barbera's vigilance with stopping 85 impaired drivers for drugs or alcohol and his investigative efforts in illegal drug cases.

Hamilton Police Department

Randy Esinger. Police Chief Steve Snavely said Esinger has been school resource officer for area schools and students have previously nominated him for separate "Hometown Hero" awards. He also is a football coach for Hamilton Middle School students.

Ravalli County Sheriff's Office

Dani Gingerich. Sheriff Steve Holton said Gingerich started as a 911 dispatcher and then became a sheriff's deputy. He said she has always helped out when needed, including helping train new 911 dispatchers.

Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department

Frank Shambels. Fire Chief Brad Mohn said he has been in the department since 2010 and helps keep the fire trucks in operating condition. This award was important because Frank and other others on the department are volunteers, and don't get a salary for their community service.

Bitterroot Health Ambulance

Shea Gingerich. Shea was chosen for his consistent efforts to improve, with his plan to become a certified paramedic.

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The crowd also thanked the families of these community responders for their sacrifices when their family members are called out at any hour of the day and any day of the year.

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