Elks Lodge honors first responders | ParkRecord.com

Elks Lodge honors first responders

The Elks First Responders award recipients pose for a photo at Rotary Park Sunday evening, August 21, 2016. The five recipients were each given plaques, recognizing them for their service and dedication to the community.

The Park City Elks Lodge's annual picnic provided local law enforcement officers and first responders with a rare opportunity over the weekend to gather in a non-emergency situation.

On Sunday, a crowd of nearly 20 uniformed emergency services personnel and their families attended the barbecue picnic nestled among the trees at Rotary Park at the base of Thaynes Canyon.

"It's awesome to be here with my coworkers because we work with all of these people and to be able to see them in a setting that is not an emergency situation or anything like that is really nice," said Trooper Stephen Matthews, who was recognized by the Utah Highway Patrol. "I just think that it is really awesome that they do this to recognize the first responders in the community. It is a really nice event that they put on for us."

For more than a decade, the local Elks Lodge has held the event to honor emergency services personnel. Each year, five agencies — Summit County Sheriff's Office, Park City Police Department, Park City Fire District, Utah Highway Patrol and Summit County Emergency Medical Services — nominate an employee who embodies emergency service. The five recipients each receive a plaque, a monetary donation and dinner for two at St. Regis Deer Valley.

Rickie Taylor, exalted leader of the lodge, said first responders rarely get the recognition they deserve. He likened their jobs to being in the military, emphasizing how the roles take a toll on the entire family.

"These guys don't really get the kind of 'thank yous' that they deserve and when they are thanked, they don't know how to respond because to them it is their job," Taylor said. "I am thrilled that we do this, especially with all of the negative press these days. It becomes more and more important to recognize the hard work of these guys and the sacrifices they make, including their families when they send their loved ones off into potentially hazardous situations."

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The Elks Lodge began honoring first responders in 2002 as part of the lodge's 100th anniversary, according to Craig Cooper, member of the Elks Lodge Board of Trustees and former exalted ruler.

"Let's just say that I think every branch has been put in life-threatening situations at times and it's all to make our lives safer," Cooper said "That in of itself is extraordinary and, as individuals, I think they deserve a really big thanks because at any moment they could be called to put their own lives in danger and we are very happy for the opportunity to do that."

Most of the recipients said they were "shocked" and "completely surprised" by the nominations, often pointing out other members who they felt were more deserving.

"I was totally not expecting it and I was blown away," said Daniel Hennefer, an emergency medical technician with Summit County EMS. "It means so much to me because there are so many other EMTs who are just as qualified and do just as a great of a job as I do. I just feel really great that I was the one who was nominated and I don't really know how to express it in words."

Matt Provost, a fourth-generation Park City firefighter, echoed Hennefer's sentiments. He said he was also surprised and honored to be recognized. Provost, a Park City High School graduate, was joined at the ceremony by his parents and neighbors.

"It's just a really great experience because I haven't worked here for very long," Provost said. "I am just honored to work with the other responders and we all have such a great working relationship."

The five winners were:

  • Jayme Hennefer, a deputy with the Summit County Sheriff's Office. Hennefer was nominated for her role in implementing a new program to combat domestic violence and her ongoing work to help victims, according to a memo from the Sheriff's Office. It described Hennefer as "a consummate professional and truly a positive reflection of the Summit County Sheriff's Office."
  • Art Boxall, an officer with the Park City Police Department. Boxall, a member of the county's multi-jurisdictional drug interdiction team, is credited with removing several large shipments of narcotics from Interstate 80. A memo from the police department said Boxall is "a person of high character and his integrity is unquestioned."
  • Stephen Matthews, a trooper with the Utah Highway Patrol. Matthews has patrolled Summit and Wasatch counties since 2008. He has earned the award for the most arrests involving people suspected of driving under the influence for several years. Matthews was also named Trooper of the Year for his section in 2009 and 2015.
  • Matt Provost, a firefighter with the Park City Fire District. Provost joined the district in 2013 after volunteering for several years with the Park City and North Summit fire districts. Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt described Provost as "the epitome of hard work, dedication and dependability."
  • Daniel Hennefer, an EMT with Summit County EMS. He has been with Summit County EMS since 2006. According to a memo from the Park City Fire District, Hennefer is "a dedicated employee always encouraging the best from his crew." The memo highlighted his positive attitude, describing him as someone who "stays calm and can command any scene."

The Elks Lodge was established in Park City in 1902.