The annual Lois and Jim Hensel Firefighter Appreciation Picnic was a big success on Saturday! We recognized four first responders from area firefighting agencies, and enjoyed the arrival of the  "Bull's March" walkers as they're making their way to Tallahassee. Many thanks to David's Bar BQ for providing the delicious eats; to the Oaks Mall for providing gift certificates to the winners; to Sandy Hensel Austin, who presented the awards on behalf of the family of Lois and Jim Hensel; and to Rick Medina for organizing it all!

Firefighters 2019
From the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department, the Firefighter of the Year Award is given to Mark Bunoy. On hand to present Mark with the award are Sandy (Hensel) Austin, Chief Jim Arnette and Sunrise Rotary president Mike Spranger. Mark has completed Florida State Fire-1 and enrolled in the emergency medical technician program at Florida Gateway College. He also stood out during Hurricane Irma when the local community was declared a statewide disaster. Even on his days off, he volunteered time distributing food, water and assisting in tree removal, sandbagging houses, and cutting trees to assist in making the area livable.
Firefighters 2019
Fire Chief W.E. Jones of the Cross Creek Volunteer Fire Department was recognized as that unit's Firefighter of the Year. For more than 20 years, "Bill" has served this small community and earned a special place in the community members hearts.
Senior Forest Ranger Michael Cruce was recognized as Firefighter of the Year from the Florida Forest Service. He has 17 years with the Service, and takes a lead role on wildfires in and around Alachua County. He has trained many new forest rangers in all aspects of wildland fire from tactics to fire behavior. When Mike is not fighting wildfires, he is working with landowners to perform wildfire hazard mitigation and prescribed fire work around Alachua County properties to make them safer from wildfires.
Lt. Chad Winningham of Station 23, A-Shift from the Alachua County Fire Rescue was awarded Firefighter of the Year for exemplifying outstanding leadership and service to our community.