By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–The members of Flotilla 5-14 held their annual awards dinner Saturday night. Enthusiasm is high for the year ahead starting with a full lake at the Cedar Creek Reservoir.
“We expect to have a very big summer,” Cmdr. Bill Fackler said. “I look forward to a great year,” increasing membership and boasting certification,” Vice Cmdr. Bob Schillo said. “I’m excited.”
The highest award, Auxiliarist of the Year, went to longtime member John Steele, with the most service hours, despite lake levels being too low to get a boat into the water.
Flotilla 5-14 excelled in five of the nine mission areas of the Silver Oar award, marking its 35th program year.
“The flotilla had to qualify without patrols on the water, so members focused attention on the areas it could excel, and it did by more than 100 percent in such areas as Public Education, Program Visitor, Member Training, Vessel Examiner, Public Affairs and Qualifications.”
Out of 85 flotillas in the Eighth Coastal Region, Flotilla 5-14 was one of 29 which qualified for the Silver Oar award this year.
It was noted that two flotilla members, Giles Farmer and Stan Fernald, both one-time District commodores, initiated the Silver Oar award 35 years ago as an incentive program, Farmer explained.
“We’re the only district in the country to have the Silver Oar program,” he said.
Current District Commodore Al Hardy told the membership of a recent e-mail from the national commodore of his desire to take the Silver Oar program national. “That’s quite an accolade to the locally initiated incentive program,” Hardy said.
Besides Hardy, Fernald and Farmer, Flotilla 5-14 member Joe Taylor has lead the district as commodore.
“This year, with water in the lake and the ability to run patrols on the weekend, we can do even better this year toward the Silver Oar award,” Fackler said.
Those named to other top awards included Joe Erwin in Operations, John Steele for Member Training and Public Education; Bob Schillo for Vessel Examinations, Royce Brimmage in Program Visitation, Jim Salzmann in Public Affairs; Chris Daley for Information Systems, Jean Steele, Materials; Howard Nicholas for Newsletter, Betty Abbott, Social Chairman; Giles Farmer as Flotilla Commander and Rusty Washam for special support.
Game Warden Dustin Balfanz thanked the Coast Guard Auxiliary for being willing to share the load.
“With all that water there goes a lot of work along with it. We’re going to have our work cut out for us. We’ll bring in a lot of game wardens on the lake to bump up safety on the lake,” Balfanz said. “I’m looking forward to continuing efforts between the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary. Let’s be safe out there.”