The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, along with the Corps Foundation—the official non-profit for America’s lakes and waterways—awarded the Marklesburg Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) the 2015 Excellence in Partnership Award during a ceremony in Marklesburg, Pennsylvania, April 6, 2016. The national award, now in its 15th year, recognizes exceptional contributions by a partner to the Corps’ many recreational and environmental stewardship programs.
MVFD was nominated by staff at Raystown Lake, a Corps flood risk management and recreation project in central Pennsylvania. The volunteer company has served the Raystown community with first responder services since 1950, covering an expansive area including Marklesburg Borough, as well as Penn, Lincoln, Hopewell, Todd, and Juniata townships.
Award-winning efforts include marking, mapping, and accessibility to the nationally-recognized Allegrippis Bike Trail System. These methods drastically improve the volunteers’ ability to swiftly locate victims of biking injuries throughout the 3,000-acre remote area. MFVD also successfully fundraised more than $100,000 to secure from the U.S. Coast Guard a 25-foot Aluminum Safe V-Hull Fire and Rescue boat that is fully equipped with remote-operated underwater camera vehicle and SCUBA team recovery equipment.
MVFD has also worked alongside the Corps during water safety awareness programs, such as the annual Glow Swim, a nighttime swimming event that teaches children to swim with a buddy and to wear their lifejackets; Critter Night, a program that uses mascots from other agencies and partners to promote water safety; and Smokey Bear’s Birthday Party, which introduces young park visitors to fire safety.
The award ceremony was held in MVFD’s fire hall and was attended by MVFD, Corps, and Corps Foundation staff, as well as family members and friends, including several Huntingdon County commissioners.
Edward Belk Jr., chief of the Operations and Regulatory Community of Practice within the Directorate of Civil Works at the U.S. Army Corps Headquarters, extended praise on behalf of Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commanding general for the U.S. Army Corps, before presenting the award. He also stressed the importance of partnerships not only at Raystown Lake, but nationwide.
“The Corps of Engineers doesn’t do anything by itself. Volunteers have provided over $56 million worth of value in both people and financial resources in making our recreation sites great,” said Belk. “MVFD has been an extraordinary partner at Raystown, and their tremendous efforts have made them the right choice for this award.”
Project Manager Capt. Kelly Giraud provided remarks during the awards ceremony on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.
“Our partnership with the MVFD has resulted in improved emergency response and better service to Raystown Lake visitors. Whether it be on a mountain biking trail or on this beautiful lake enjoying the natural resources that surround us, we can all feel safer knowing that emergency services can get to us quickly, if needed,” said Giraud.
The award was accepted by MVFD President Brian Hunsicker, who stressed the importance of cooperation among many groups in the area, including the Friends of Raystown Lake and the Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association.
“The community around here overwhelms us with support,” said Hunsicker. “I hope we can continue our partnerships, and continue to move forward, as we always have.”