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Collinsville honors top public servants

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The top police officer, firefighter, teacher and the person who gave the most back to the community were recently honored at the Collinsville community awards night, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

2014 Spirit of Excellence Award

Each year, the Spirit of Excellence Award is given to a person whose achievements and long-term commitment, as well as the person’s excellence during the past year, resulted in creating a better Collinsville. Lifelong resident Lois Metzger was chosen as the 2014 honoree.

Metzger is a resourceful and devoted volunteer whose efforts include several civic and community organizations and commissions. But many in town recognize her by her unofficial title, “our Collinsville historian.”

A 1955 Collinsville High School graduate, Metzger earned her degree in education from SIUC. She taught kindergarten at Webster School and worked as a substitute teacher at Collinsville High School.

In 1960, Metzger joined the Junior Service Club. She was recognized as a life-time active member of JSC in 1993 and a 50 years member in 2010. During her longtime involvement with Collinsville Progress, she researched historic homes and buildings for recognition as Collinsville Progress Historic Landmarks. She also serves on the Collinsville Historic Preservation Commission, where she works with other members of the commission on the D.D. Collins House project.

Metzger can be found at most Kahok basketball games. She and her husband, Bill, have been regular season ticket holders for many years. She was recognized for her Kahok loyalty during senior night this past season. She is also an active member of the Friends of the Collinsville Museum and Library and a member of Collinsville Progress.

In addition to her community and civic projects, this former Tepee May Queen and Collinsville Kahok cheerleader is an active member of First United Methodist Church.

Lois Welch, sister of Tom and Paul Welch, married Bill Metzger in August 1959. The couple has three children – William, Ellen and Susan – and ten grandchildren.

Previous Spirit of Excellence winners are: Ruth Newman – 1985, Mel Roustio – 1986, Irving Dilliard – 1987, Bob Herr – 1988, Rick Murray – 1989, Linda Bohnenstiehl – 1990, Carl Schultze – 1991, William Jokerst – 1992, Lucille Stehman – 1993, Gary Haskell – 1994, Jack Renfro – 1995, Ginger Trucano – 1996, Joe Ashmann – 1997, Bobbie Price – 1998, Fred Dalton- 1999, Virgil Fletcher- 2000, Pat Peverly- 2001, Ann & Lydia Endrejatis – 2002, Sallie Jo Burton – 2004, Arvil William Wrigley -2005, Sandra Stammer – 2006, Warren Billhartz – 2007, Cindy Warke – 2008, Scott Williams – 2009, Terry “Bones” Allan – 2010, Joe Hutton – 2011, Rhoda Gibson – 2012 and Joyce Biegert – 2013.

2014 Firefighter of the Year Award

Firefighter and Paramedic Chris Frawley, who has worked for the Collinsville Fire Department since January 2008, was honored as the 2014 Firefighter of the Year for his continuing dedication to projects that made Collinsville Emergency Medical Services reporting more accurate and more efficient within the Fire Department.

Collinsville citizens in need of an ambulance receive better treatment as a result of a project he developed and managed, the award statement notes. As a certified Fire Investigator, Firefighter Frawley is always on the scene to investigate the cause and origin of Collinsville fires to better understand and learn from each incident and better serve the community in emergencies.

Previous Firefighter of the Year winners are: Ken Eichelberger – 1985, Ronald McDonald – 1986, Duane Bales – 1987, John Nichols – 1988, Michael Brown – 1989, John Miller – 1990, Richard Welle – 1991, Ron Whitt – 1992, Pete Stehman – 1993, John Miller – 1994, John Nichols – 1995, Robin Thorpe – 1996, Dennis Cooper – 1997, Ronald Lounsbury – 1998, David Meadows- 1999, David Barton – 2000, Pete Stehman – 2001, Richard Welle- 2002, Michael Harris- 2004, Dennis Cooper-2004, Frank Anold – 2005, David Bennett -2006, Dusty Katich – 2007, Matt Sienkiewicz – 2008, Doug Talbot 2009, Michael Lutz  2010, Brian Hamilton 2011, Matt Sienkiewicz 2012 and James A. Anderson 2013.

2014 Police Officer of the Year

Officer Brad Akers, who has served the community as a police officer since January 2007  and is currently a canine officer, is the 2014 Collinsville Police Officer of the Year.

In February, while investigating a DUI incident, he recovered a stolen 9 mm pistol from the suspect’s glove compartment. This weapon had been reported stolen in St. Louis and the subject was charged with possession of a stolen firearm.

In the same month, Akers made contact with a driver, who was parked in a fire lane. The suspect initially gave a false name, but the description did not match the driver. A computer check revealed that she was wanted for possession of a controlled substance. A subsequent search of the suspect’s vehicle turned up heroin and crack cocaine.

In May, Akers responded to a domestic incident call where a woman was being held by a man with a knife. She was able to escape before Akers arrived, however, the suspect was still barricaded in the residence.

Akers used the victim’s cell phone to contact the suspect and, after several minutes, he was able to talk the suspect into surrendering. Because of his ability to talk and relate to the suspect, an incident that could have resulted in injury to the officer or victim was averted and ended peacefully.

Also in May, Akers stopped a vehicle that matched the description of one used in a vehicle burglary earlier in the evening. He identified the four occupants from a neighboring community and that they planned to break into several vehicles in Collinsville.

In July, Akers was patrolling an area where a recent drug-related shooting had taken place. While on a traffic stop, he smelled cannabis and started to question one of the occupants when a second passenger got out and ran. Akers was able to catch the suspect and, after a search, found a loaded pistol and illegal drugs packaged for sale. The suspect was later charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and with intent to deliver cannabis.

As a canine officer, he orchestrates training for all department dogs and maintains certifications and all documentation. Officer Akers evaluates equipment needs for the program and is trusted to make decisions on the type of equipment needed to make the program effective and efficient. He also makes his dog available for demonstrations at schools and civic organizations.

Akers was called an inspiration to other officers. His proactive activity and report writing excellence was cited as an example to other officers. Aker’s dedication to the mission of the police department is shown through his willingness to help other officers in doing their job. He is always willing to share his experience and knowledge with others. He can be counted on to help all members of the department get tasks completed correctly and efficiently.

Past Officer of the Year Winners are: Dave Zukowski – 1985, Kenneth Hahs – 1986, Darron Johnson – 1987, Joseph Girolamo – 1988, Daniel Netemeyer – 1989, Edward Delmore – 1990, M. Scott Williams – 1991, Robert Vecchetti – 1992, Charles Mackin – 1993, Dale Wood – 1994, Michael Reis – 1995, Rich Pyles – 1996, David Roth – 1997, Eric Zaber – 1998, Michael Nunley – 1999, Eric Owen – 2000, Ray Rowland – 2001, Mark Krug – 2002, Gerrit Gillespie-2003, Eric Herman – 2004, Jose Cerna – 2005, Christopher Mueth -2006, Michael Bauer – 2007, Stacy McElroy – 2008, Doug Talbot – 2010, Josh Hunt – 2011, Bud Jeremias – 2012, Mark Kuechle – 2013.

2014 Teacher of the Year

A Kreitner Elementary School teacher has been named the Collinsville Teacher of the Year for the second consecutive year

Amber Denbow, a 20-year veteran in the Collinsville School District, was honored for her commitment to the success of all students at Kreitner School, regardless of socio-economic background or language barriers.

As a pre-kindergarten teacher, Denbow piloted and implemented Unit 10’s Head Start Collaboration Program, which is now used throughout the school district. She also piloted and implemented one of the two full-day pre-Kindergarten classrooms – among the first in the Collinsville School District. Denbow then created an integrated classroom with early childhood and special education in the same classroom setting.

Denbow also served as a first grade teacher and, for the past four years, has taught in a kindergarten room that includes students with special needs. Her passion is for all children and has patience that is never ending, the award letter indicated.

Beyond her classroom duties, Denbow is a mentor to new teachers and has facilitated the Family Reading Night for two years. She is committed to developing a strong reading foundation.

Denbow, a mother of three and grandmother of two, recognizes the importance of parental involvement for student success. She is the leader of the parent involvement committee and is always looking for new ways to encourage parents to take an active role in their child’s education, the award letter indicated.

She believes in a team approach and serves on the School Improvement/Leadership committee, serves as the Collinsville Education Association building representative for Kreitner School, co-chairs the Staff Flower Fund, and is a member of the Richard Lickfield Memorial Committee.

Denbow was recognized for always being available to assist any student. She often skips lunch to help a student needing extra support. She has also been known to help the students at Kreitner with needed items such as a pair of shoes, a coat or school supplies.

Carol McFall won the award in 2013. A full list of prior recipients was not available.


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