Kudos are in order for two very different groups of heroes — one for the present, the other for the future.
Young leaders in agriculture took home awards from the 2018 Greene County Youth Fair and Columbia County firefighters were honored for their dedication and courage this weekend.
Dozens of young people at the fair, held over four days in Cairo, won awards for herding and grooming of animals, sportsmanship and leadership. In Germantown, Jamie Preusser was named Columbia County’s top firefighter for saving the lives of two people in separate incidents.
Matthew Story, 9, and his sister, Sloane Story, 7, won a bushel of awards for their dairy cow exhibit at the youth fair. For the Story family, owner of Story Farms in Catskill, the fair is a family tradition and has been for many years.
Few firefighters get one opportunity to save a life, but Preusser had two in one year. In the first, he rescued a man pinned beneath his career at the boat launch at Copake Lake. In the second, Preusser saved a man who was trapped in brush after he fell 20 feet down an embankment.
Each year, the youth fair presents a special sportsmanship award in the name of Dakota W. Winegard, a former fair exhibitor, 4-H member and mentor who died at 17 in a 2009 drowning accident. Meghan Hallenbeck, 16, of Greenville, is the winner of the 2018 Winegard Memorial Award. Inspired by Dakota, who mentored her when she was 7, Meghan taught some younger exhibitors how to show their animals this year.
Ghent Fire Company firefighter Kenneth Wilber was the winner of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and joined the fire department 54 years ago. Wilber served as Ghent town supervisor in the 1980s and early 1990s, fighting on behalf of emergency services in Columbia County. Honorable mentions for lifetime achievement went to James Coons, George Harp and Jeffrey French.
Congratulations to all the Greene County Youth Fair award winners who stepped up to teach the children who will follow them the virtues the fair represents — community, cooperation, agricultural skills and sportsmanship. Congratulations, too, go to Columbia County’s firefighters for their unyielding dedication, unstoppable bravery and willingness to give a man the shirt off their backs to save his life.