ST. MARYS — A local veterans organization honored two residents who give their time and energy to help make St. Marys a better place to live.
St. Marys American Legion Post 323 honored Chris Wilson and Connie Triplett as its firefighter and teacher of the year during a meeting Wednesday night at the legion hall. Wilson, a member of the St. Marys Fire Department, has been a full-time firefighter for 10 years.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Wilson said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it until I got the call from Mr. (Floyd) Braun yesterday (Tuesday). I’m excited.”
As a firefighter, Wilson said he often sees people at their most vulnerable moments. It’s being able to help others that makes being a firefighter rewarding to him, he noted.
“I enjoy the paramedic side — I like helping people,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately we see people in their worse times and we try to add some compassion and aid them when they are having a bad day is something I enjoy.”
Wilson noted he also feels good when those he helped in the line of duty greet him after the fact. He also encouraged anyone thinking about his line of work to give it a go.
“When you see them later, it’s a good experience,” Wilson said. “I think it’s a great thing to get into. I got into it a little later in life, but I’d say if you have any kind of desire, follow it right out of high school. Get into it, it makes a great career.”
Triplett, a first-grade teacher at St. Marys Primary School, called the award “humbling.”
“There are many good teachers who I teach with,” Triplett said. “This is definitely an honor.”
A teacher for 28 years, Triplett said there is never a dull moment in her classroom.
“I get to be with little children all day and I get to watch that light bulb go off every time they learn something new,” Triplett said. “I get to learn from them — they keep me young. It’s just so rewarding and every day is something new.”
Triplett said one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is seeing students as they progress through their education.
“Mrs. Jay at the high school, in the Blue Print, every year asks the kids who their favorite elementary school teacher was and why,” Triplett said. “Many times I have been chosen for that and I am like, ‘Wow, they remember me after 11 years.’”
Like Wilson, Triplett encourage those contemplating a career in education to give it a shot.
“The education field is very, very rewarding,” Triplett said. “It’s a lot of work, expect a lot of changes — you have to go with the flow.”
Auglaize County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Eberle was named the law enforcement officer of the year. Eberle was unable to attend the ceremony and will be presented his award at a later date.