American Legion honors officers, EMS volunteer

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Penn Yan Ambulance Volunteer Cindy Davis accepts her award from American Legion Commander David Blauvelt.

Members of the Johnson-Costello American Legion Post 355 celebrated the organization’s 95th Anniversary Dinner April 5, when they honored local law enforcement and emergency responders along with Legion members.

Community Awards were presented to:

• Penn Yan Volunteer Ambulance Corps: Cindy Davis was recognized as the volunteer of the year. “It’s nice to recognize the people who take care of us,” said Post Commander David Blauvelt.

• Yates County Sheriff’s Office: Lt. Todd Sotir, who has risen through the ranks of the Sheriff’s Office over 29 years, was named Officer of the Year for the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Ron Spike said Sotir began his service as a part time corrections officer in 1985, becoming full time in 1987, and transitioning to a deputy sheriff position in 1989. He was promoted to sergeant in 1995 and transferred to the criminal investigation division in 1999. Sotir was promoted to Lieutenant in 2007. Spike says in 2011, Sotir established information that led to arrests for heroin possession in Penn Yan. Sotir has also investigated welfare fraud cases, and has received letters of commendation for successfully negotiating the resolution of multiple cases involving mentally ill subjects, avoiding violence and injuries.

• Penn Yan Police: Police Officer Brandon DeHond was nominated as Officer of the Year by Chief Mark Hulse for his work on the 2013 case that led to the arrest and conviction of individuals he caught stealing catalytic converters from new vehicles at Friendly Motors. DeHond, who was hired by the village police department in 2012, noted suspicious behavior in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, 2013. He contacted the Yates County Sheriff’s Department and subsequently,  four to five members of a theft ring spanning four states were arrested.

• New York State Trooper: Dale Everetts, the most senior trooper from the Dundee post, was nominated as Officer of the Year by Sgt. Steve Neuberger. Everetts, who recently marked his 20th anniversary with the force, is described as being fair,  hardworking, and an excellent role model for younger officers. Neuberger described him as having integrity beyond reproach.

Post awards included:

• Lifetime membership: Jean Hoagland, a World War II veteran who is a 30-year member, was given a Lifetime membership.

• Length of membership: Robert Armstrong and Erving Schroeder were recognized for 60 years of membership; P. Earle Gleason and Fred Jensen were recognized for 45 years; David Blauvelt and Don DeBolt were recognized for 35 years; Charlie Robinson and Kenneth Sharp also were recognized for their 30 year memberships.

• Volunteers of the Year: The Penn Yan American Legion Riders were honored as volunteers of the year.