A 7-year-old is Greenfield’s first recipient of the newly-implemented Citizen of the Month Award, and he earned it by quick action that saved the lives of two people.
The citizen of the month is Ryker Stark. While city manager Todd Wilkin began to tell council Stark’s story, he became too emotional over the action of the child and asked Stark’s father to tell council members what happened.
The father said he was in the house cooking dinner while his son played outside. At some point Stark came in and told him someone was on the ground beside a car in the alley and they needed help. The father was able to go outside and call for emergency personnel to help two men in medical distress.
While Wilkin was too overcome to speak the story, his written report to council contained further details. It said that the child, while out riding his bike last week, noticed odd behavior from two men in a car in an alley near his home. While the two men were in physical peril because they were experiencing a drug overdose, it was the quick action of Stark that got medical personnel on the scene and saved their lives.
Wilkin said he intends to share a photo of Stark with Highland County Court Judge Robert Judkins so he can share that photo with each of the men when they are in court and they can look at the face of the boy who is responsible for their being alive.
“Even though Ryker is only 7 years old,” Wilkin wrote in his report, “he represents Greenfield as a whole. We are just normal people who are willing to step up and help our neighbors in times of need.”
Wilkin presented Stark with a plaque and as he shook the grinning child’s hand said, “You saved two men’s lives. This is a big deal.”
Along with the Citizen of the Month Award, there are other recognitions that the village plans to start making.
One of those is to recognize an Employee of the Month. It is a way for the administration, employees and residents to acknowledge village employees for their work.
Another is the Greenfield Home & Garden Award, with it’s first recognition planned for the July 21 council meeting. It is a way to recognize the hard work and dedication of residents who contribute to the beauty of Greenfield with things like their landscaping, gardens, well-maintained homes and decorations.
Wilkin said that suggestions for more ways to recognize people are welcome and encouraged, not only for the awards, but also other awards for things like best Christmas decorations, spookiest Halloween decorations, or most patriotic decorations.
“The idea,” Wilkin said, “is to promote the beauty of Greenfield and the citizens that create that image.”
Any of those suggestions can be dropped off anonymously in the village’s new suggestion box, which hangs on a wall just outside the elevator in the third-floor lobby. The box is for any suggestion, Wilkin said, including thoughts on things like grass mowing or how the village is spending tax dollars.
On the related matter, Andrew Surritt, chief of the local non-profit search and rescue organization Rescue 101, also spoke to council.
His organization was heavily involved in organizing searches for 18-year-old Maddie Bell, who was believed to be missing for nearly a week before it was learned that she was safe and had left the state of her own accord. Surritt said that during those days of searching, there were more than 1,000 people that showed up to help and more than 14,000 man hours logged by volunteers. While there were non-local people and organizations that helped, too, the majority of the volunteers and the man hours were local people, he said. The point of Surritt providing these numbers was to show how much was done by the community that stepped up to help one if its own.
Surritt and his team have been involved in searches across the state, and even deploy nationally when needed. In all their years and experience, Surritt said none of them have ever seen the “overwhelming” show of support that Greenfield showed when Bell was missing.
Surritt thanked the village and the community for its efforts. He also told council more about the organization and what it has to offer Greenfield when it is in need. For more information on Rescue 101, visit its Facebook page or rescue101sar.org.
Sarah Blair, representing her group called No Child in Need, spoke to council about the group that was begun over a year ago to help local children with things like school supplies and Christmas presents. While she is working on gaining a non-profit status, she and others in the group have helped local children from small donations and taken on a lot of out-of-pocket expense on themselves, she said.
The group is hoping to be able to have fireworks on the Fourth of July as a way to spread joy. Blair said it wouldn’t be a large display this year, but would still be a good show. The group has raised about half of what it needs so far through selling raffle tickets and other items, as well as through donations both from individuals and businesses. Blair said there is a donation container at Stewart’s Pharmacy and that she will be fundraising at Greenfield’s Community Market over the weekend.
There are obstacles in getting it all together by July 4, like insurance, time and funding, but Blair and other members in the group are determined to keep trying. If the show doesn’t happen this year, Blair said she will refund what money businesses have donated, if that’s what they wish, and everything else that has been donated will go toward next year’s endeavor of a big fireworks show at Mitchell Park.
If this year’s happens, it will begin at 10 a.m. at Mitchell Park on July 4 and will include a truck show, contests, prizes and vendors.
Wilkin said having fireworks back in Greenfield would be great, and perhaps Blair “is the catalyst” to make that happen, and if not this year, than in the years to come.
On another matter, Wilkin said he has heard comments regarding the village’s administration and capitalism being under attack in Greenfield.
Wilkin emphatically declared that is not the case and that capitalism “is not dead or under attack in Greenfield.”
“We work hard to ensure our business partners have what they need from their government without the government interfering with their ability to operate,” he said. The administration is working to foster relationships with local business, invite new business, and encourage growth.
On the related matter, Wilkin said he recently spoke with Corvac Plant Manager Brian Gilbert regarding the plant reopening after being closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. He reported that Corvac is doing well in its restart. He added that the plant is currently hiring and encouraged recent graduates to look there for employment. Adient is also hiring, he said.
The jobs are right here, he said. “These are good companies in Greenfield and they are looking for good people.”
In other business, council members and Wilkin thanked the Paint Creek EMS/Fire District, village employees, and Rescue 101 for their efforts to clear debris after last week’s nasty storm that left significant tree damage throughout the village.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.