Several Dunsmuir citizens attended a free Pasta Dinner put on by Dunsmuir Rotary Saturday evening to show their appreciation for firefighters’ and first responders’ efforts, especially after the recent Hirz-Delta Fires which were so close to the Dunsmuir and Castella communities.

Held at the Dunsmuir Community Center, the event featured a menu of pasta, salad, garlic bread, and a variety of desserts. Dinner was prepared and served by members of the Dunsmuir Rotary Club. The dinner was preceded by a no-host cocktail reception. Guitarist Rick Garrett provided live music for the cocktail hour and dinner.

Rotary member and emcee Will Newman explained both why the Rotary Club is an important part of his own life, and why it was important to the Rotary Club to recognize and honor these important first responders, pointing out that “one of the Rotary slogans is ‘Service Above Self.’”

Speakers at the event included Dunsmuir Mayor Bruce Deutsch, Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey, Dunsmuir-Castella Fire Chief Dan Padilla, and firefighters Adam Heilman and Josh Spurlock.

On behalf of the Dunsmuir Rotary, Big Dave Keisler presented Heilman and Spurlock each with a Key to the City and a Medal of Honor with the inscription, “Thanks for risking your life for friends and strangers.”

Lopey was also presented with a matching Key to the City and Medal of Honor for the Sheriff’s Department’s services.

Heilman, Spurlock and Lopey each expressed humble words of gratitude upon receipt of the symbolic awards.

Heilman gave a candid and heartfelt acceptance speech, sharing a humorous personal anecdote describing his very first call as a volunteer firefighter. He said he really appreciated everyone’s kindness, adding, “but I don’t do it for the recognition.” The same sentiment was echoed by Spurlock and Lopey.

Lopey said he’s “been in law enforcement for over forty years, and this was the worst fire year ever.” He talked about how catastrophic the Carr Fire was, and about how frightened people in South Siskiyou County, especially in Dunsmuir and Castella, were during the Hirz and Delta Fires.

Lopey commended the local firefighters for their dedication and professionalism, pointing out that they are as well-trained and prepared as many professional firefighters in big cities. He thanked everyone present and said he would present the Key to the City and the Medal of Honor to his officers at the station, where the awards would be given a special place of honor.

Fire Chief Dan Padilla said the Dunsmuir-Castella volunteer firefighters who were not able to attend the dinner will be presented with the same awards of honor at a similar event in the very near future.