A source of pride
The banquet was to honor police officers and firefighters who serve Basehor and Fairmount and Stranger townships.
But this year, the banquet sponsored by the Basehor Pride Association had added significance. It honored not only local police officers and firefighters, but also the New York City emergency service workers who died in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Sunday afternoon's banquet at the Basehor City Park, said association President Chuck Wilderson, "was special because of what happened on Sept. 11. I think people realize the bravery these people have."
Wilderson said the banquet drew more visitors this year than it did in years past.
"This was the very best turnout we ever had," he said. "We had well over 100 people come by and we eventually ran out of chairs to put people in."
Along with the honors, there were tears.
When Basehor resident Debbie Kemler sang "God Bless America" and "Proud to be an American," voices from the audience joined in and eyes were tearing.
"It was a good thing to see," Wilderson said. "A lot of people were singing along and some even had tears in their eyes."
After Kemler's performance, the Pride Association honored three individual area emergency workers for their work during the past year.
Honored as firefighters of the year were Stranger Township firefighter Troy McKitrick and Fairmount Township firefighter George Racki.
Also honored as police officer of the year was Basehor Police Chief Vince Weston.
Weston, who has been with the Police Department since 1989, said he was surprised to get the award and appreciated those who considered him.
"I didn't expect it and I would like to thank those who made the decision," Weston said.
"I would also like to thank the city of Basehor. It has been a pleasure to work for them and it has been the best job I could ever have hoped for."
The Pride Association also donated $500 to the Leavenworth County Mutual Assistance Association to help the department with equipment costs, Wilderson said.