A room full of local law enforcement and first responders were honored Thursday night by the Tifton Elks Lodge at their annual Public Safety Officer Appreciation and Awards Banquet for their service in the community.
Prior to the awards being given out, Louise Spradley, who organized the banquet, welcomed everyone, and the invocation and pledge were led by the Tift County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard.
The featured speaker was Tift County Sheriff Gene Scarbrough. He thanked everyone for their hard work and dedication and said they are the ones who make management good.
Department heads introduced their award recipients, describing each of them as not only great and dependable employees, but great people who try to make a difference in their community. Col. Larry Taylor commented before introducing the sheriff's office award recipient that those serving in public safety never know from one minute to the next what a call is going to be. He added their families need to be thanked as well.
The following men and women were awarded with a plaque: Georgia State Patrol Trooper Ben Taylor, volunteer Firefighter Brian Fincher with the Chula Fire Department, Sgt. Debbie Pyles with the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Police Department, Sgt. Bart Walker with the Omega Police Department, Officer Brian Shockley with the Tifton Police Department, Brandi Conway with the Tifton-Tift County Animal Shelter, Eddie Brown with the Tift County Emergency Medical Services, Deputy Jonathan Toledo with the Tift County Sheriff's Office and Thomas Catanzarita with the TCSO Jail Division.
Catanzarita also took top honors as Officer of the Year. He was presented with another larger plaque and a firearm. His peers in the audience chanted for him to give a speech. He kindly smiled and said, "Thank you."
Tift County E-911 also received an award.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.