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Cave City firefighter receives Joe Coker Award

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Photo/Tammy Curtis Bob Davis, retired Batesville Fire Chief and President of the Three Rivers Fire Fighters Association and Secretary of the Arkansas Fire Association, retired Walnut Ridge Fire Chief and friend of the late Joe Coker, presented Cave City assistant Fire Chief Curt Coles with the Joe Coker Achievement Award on July 14 at the Basehart Station in Cherokee Village.
Firefighters constantly give of themselves and live to help others. On July 14, a Cave City fireman was honored with the Joe Coker Achievement Award at the Three Rivers Firefighters Association meeting at Basehart Station in Cherokee Village.

For the second year in a row, a member of the Cave City Department was chosen.

Curt Coles, a second generation fire fighter, followed in the footsteps of his his father and former chief, Calvin Coles.

In receiving the Achievement Award, Coles also follows his chief.

In 2011, Cave City Fire Chief Ronny Milligan was the recipient of the coveted award.

Coles has served on the Cave City Fire Department for 24 years and also served on the Newport Fire Department for 19 years.

A lifelong resident of Cave City, Coles is Cave City's assistant Fire Chief, and has served as an adjunct instructor at Black River Technical School and the Fire Academy.

Coles and his wife, Shannon, have two children, Trenton and Kelsi.

Presenting the award to Coles was Tim Gates, Secretary of the State Fire Association and retire Walnut Ridge Fire Chief.

The late Joe Coker, the namesake of the award was an officer on the Arkansas State Fire Chief's Association, and later served as president.

Coker was the chief of the Walnut Ridge Fire Department from 1984-1998 and worked for Walnut Ridge as a volunteer fire chief from 1984 until he became the full time chief in 1991.

He was also instrumental in helping pass legislation to get the Black River Fire Training Center through Black River College, perhaps one of his greatest achievements and one that gave him high respect among area firefighters.

The association presents the Joe Coker Achievement award annually. The winner is then eligible for the Arkansas Firefighter of the Year Award.

Coles said, "I am very honored to receive this award."

In 2009, the Cave City Fire Department won the honor of the Arkansas Adjusters Association Fire Department of the Year.

Prior to the meeting, members of the Cherokee Village Fire Department including Kelly Ford, Curt Wiggins, Chad Murphy, Kent Viers and Chief Mike Taylor cooked hamburgers and hot dogs and prepared the meal for the crowd.

Representatives from fire departments including Desha, Pleasant Plains, Batesville, Cave City, Ash Flat, Walnut Ridge, Hoxie and Nine Mile Ridge were present for the meeting.

Among the topics of the meeting, Batesville Fire Chief Brent Gleghorn invited the area departments to a Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser to be held Aug. 20 at Riverside Park in Batesville.

The event is a Fire Truck Pull. Area firefighters will form 10 person teams with sponsorships and attempt to pull a 2007 aerial truck weighing 74,000 pounds.

The event will be timed and teams must pull the truck 10 feet. The goal for the event is for each team to raise $7,400. This amount is equal to the amount of money it takes for 10 minutes of research to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy.

The Chief told the group of nearly 50 attendees the East Central District has challenged the Three Rivers District, telling them they will pull one handed.

Anyone wishing to participate in the event need not be a firefighter to enter a team.

For further information contact Gleghorn via e-mail at chiefbfd@cityofbatesville.com.

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