Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

City awards good deeds of citizen

Volunteer of the Year makes mark with fireworks display

October 25, 2007

At the age of 16, Jamie Miller found a spark of interest in an activity that would follow him long into adulthood and go beyond any typical hobby.

He's not sure if it was the boom, the colors or the complex chemistry involved, but Miller fell in love with fireworks and has since become the proud organizer of Lansing's annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

To honor the countless volunteer hours he logs during the year-long process to prepare for each year's event, Miller was given the Volunteer of the Year Award at the city's 14th annual City of Lansing Recognition Dinner.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard presented Miller with the award and said Lansing was lucky to have someone like Miller who wants to share his talents with others.

"He has showed an endless commitment to the community," Bernard said.

Each year Lansing residents enjoy the fireworks display, Bernard said, and when asked to help bring another display to Lansing DAZE, Miller agreed without hesitation and again spent hours of work for others enjoyment.

But it's that feeling at the end of a display when everything comes together and the crowd is cheering that Miller said drives him to make every year better than the previous.

When he first brought the idea of having a fireworks display to the city in 1999, the only area fireworks display option for Lansing residents on the Fourth of July was at Fort Leavenworth. Miller and the city worked together with a $3,500 budget to put on the first show, which turned out to be a success.

From there, the event took off running. The city purchased a real firing system, which meant Miller and his crew no longer had to light everything by hand, and expanded his budget to $12,000.

Miller then set out to synchronize the show to music, which he said is a painstaking process that most people could never imagine. He said it takes him one hour to script out and synchronize the fireworks to only one minute of a song.

Despite the hours that each display takes, Miller has no plans on slowing down anytime soon. Over his career as a certified pyrotechnician, Miller has been involved in thousands of shows, but the Lansing shows are the largest that he's led.

Miller said nothing could be done, however, without the help of his crew of 18 other volunteers who help prepare and run the show with him. He said each one deserved the same award because they, too, sacrifice so much to bring an enjoyable show to the community.

Time is what Miller said is his biggest sacrifice. He keeps busy at his job as the director of the Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Service and as a volunteer with Leavenworth County Fire District No.1.

After leaving a career in the military, which is what originally brought him to the area, Miller said he knew he wanted to be involved with the EMS or fire department in some way. It's been 12 years since then, and Miller said he still enjoys everything he does.

When not at work, Miller is at home with his daughter, who is 2, his son, who is 1, and his wife, Stefanie, who is currently expecting their third child. Miller also has an 11-year-old daughter from his first marriage.

Around his busy schedule, Miller said he's already started planning next year's Fourth of July display, and said people can expect to see something bigger and better than the 2007 display.

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