La Mesa’s Chamber of Commerce Casino Royale night honors local heroes

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The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce hosted its fifth annual Casino Royale night to honor local heroes on Feb. 21 at San Diego’s Town and Country Hotel. The honorees consisted of eight local heroes that the chamber recognized for their outstanding service and contribution toward making La Mesa a safer and better place to live.

The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce hosted its fifth annual Casino Royale night to honor local heroes on Feb. 21 at San Diego’s Town and Country Hotel. The honorees consisted of eight local heroes that the chamber recognized for their outstanding service and contribution toward making La Mesa a safer and better place to live.

Among the honorees were paramedics Ryan Ferguson and Paul Forney of American Medical Response, Battalion Chief Kelly Sisson and firefighter/paramedic Brandon Drips of Heartland Fire & Rescue, officer Derek Cox and dispatcher Kathy Norman from the La Mesa Police Department and, last but not least, Don Kurban and Dick Thomas of the La Mesa Police Department’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol.
La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mary England hosted the event, which kicked off with her welcoming guests to the James Bond 007 casino-themed event. Throughout the evening she presented honoree awards, thanked sponsors and invited guests to participate in the festivities, which included roulette, craps, blackjack, silent auctions and raffles.

On behalf of all chamber members, England expressed her gratitude to the heroes being honored, adding that the evening also served to spotlight the chamber’s role in these continued tough economic times.

England said that her organization “was proud to represent and support regional businesses and the encouragement of membership in the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce which, in turn, fosters relationship building and brings consumers to La Mesa, helping to stimulate its economy.”
Police dispatcher Kathy Norman stated that she was “moved and very happy to be recognized for her work and to be honored by the chamber.” The chamber, in turn, acknowledged her outstanding service to her community, stating that Norman “consistently demonstrates the ability to remain calm in high stress situations, providing the citizens of La Mesa with outstanding customer service, while possessing an extraordinary work ethic.” Norman started working for the La Mesa Police Department in 1996. Since then, she is known “for her consistent excellence in dispatching and is the hero behind the voice taking 911 emergency calls,” according to the chamber.

Another evening’s honored hero was firefighter/paramedic Brandon Drips. During his shift on June 25, 2012, Drips had the opportunity to use his training, education and skills to help save the life of David Gomez. Gomez was driving his vehicle on Massachusetts Avenue near Blackton Drive when he passed out from a medical emergency, crashing into a telephone pole.

“Due to Drips’ quick response and professional actions, Gomez survived his medical emergency and accident and is alive and active today. Notably, the incident was rendered additionally special in that Gomez has a family member, Chris Rudisill, who is also a paramedic with American Medical Response. Consequently, Rudisill wrote a letter praising the quick response and professionalism of firefighter/paramedic Drips,” according to the chamber.
Familiar faces among the guests included La Mesa City Councilman Ernest Ewin and Councilwoman Ruth Sterling. “I am so proud of our heroes and to be celebrating their dedicated service to our community,” said Sterling. Asked about her own dedicated service, Sterling humbly replied, “I have been a member of the council for 24 years and it continues to be such an honor.”

While congratulating honoree Dick Thomas, La Mesa Police Chief Ed Aceves jovially joked, “Dick is a bit of a slacker. He has only clocked 6,200 hours (of service).” Aceves added, on a serious and proud note, “On behalf of our community, we thank you and commend you for your tireless service.” Concluding his statement, Chief Aceves stated, “I am honored to be here tonight, celebrating these heroes who’ve given so much to our community.”

Summing up the evening, England stated that she was “ultimately grateful, on behalf of all of the chamber members, to spotlight the men and women who protect, serve and keep our community safe and she takes great pleasure and pride in hosting the Casino Royale festivities in their honor,” she concluded.

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