Officer, firefighter honored by ElksA drug investigator whose initiative has put numerous dealers behind bars and a firefighter whose obstacle course training became critical for fellow firefighters in a tough spot were celebrated Friday at the Superior Elks Lodge.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A drug investigator whose initiative has put numerous dealers behind bars and a firefighter whose obstacle course training became critical for fellow firefighters in a tough spot were celebrated Friday at the Superior Elks Lodge.
In honor of Drug Awareness Week, Superior Police Officer Paul Winterscheidt of the Superior Police Department was given the local Enrique Camarena Award. Winterscheidt became a narcotics investigator 1½ years ago for the department.
“He’s really made a difference in the community,” said Superior Police Chief Charles LaGesse. The chief gave an example — one of many — that showed Winterscheidt’s initiative.
The investigator saw a woman hanging out near a Superior convenience store at a spot where he knew drugs had been passed before. Although he was driving with his family, Winterscheidt parked and walked up to the woman. After identifying himself as a police officer, he told her to turn over the crack cocaine. She said she wasn’t there for crack cocaine, she was there to “square up” a heroin debt.
That meeting led to the arrest of two men funneling heroin and cocaine into Superior from Chicago.
While the lodge gave out an Enrique Camerena Award last year, this was the first year they also honored a local fireman, Motor Pump Operator Mike Hoyt.
“He’s a man of many talents and he’s got a lot of MacGyver in him,” said Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger. “Mike is always looking for better and safer ways to help our firefighters return home safely at the end of the shift.” In addition to his other work, Hoyt has found a niche training his fellow firefighters for adverse “mayday” situations. An obstacle course he designed with foam noodles, ramps, hanging wires and small entry spaces simulates real-world dangers. That training became critical Aug. 26 during a fire at the Burlington Northern taconite facility, Panger said. Four firefighters had to enact this “mayday” protocol when they found themselves in a zero visibility situation with limited air reserves in a facility 100 feet above ground level where they lost their bearings and were unable to find their way out. The crew members found their way out in seven minutes thanks to the actions they and the exterior crew took.
“Repeated training gave our crews a clear roadmap of what to do during an incident like this,” Panger said.
Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen, a member of the lodge, thanked police and fire department members for their dedication and talent.
“The talent runs wide, deep and far,” he said. The mayor spoke of the need for a new fire hall and the possibility of take-home squad cars in Superior.
“There’s a lot of things we can do together,” he said.
Superior Elks Lodge 403 has been bringing back a number of programs like drug awareness week to spotlight the community, said Esteemed Loyal Knight Cristine Crum, who organized the awards dinner.
“We just believe in our city,” she said. “Let’s show it off.” Next year, she said, they would like to add a paramedic award to the event.
Members of the Elks don’t toot their horns much, said Exalted Ruler Daniel Crum, but they are involved in numerous activities and raise funds for local scholarships and charities. Their next community event will be a dinner and program to celebrate veterans on Nov. 11 at the lodge, 1503 Belknap St. Veterans and their spouses can attend the event for free. The cost is $10 for other guests. The program begins at 5 p.m. followed by supper at 5:30 p.m. Those wishing to attend should call 715-394-7403 by Nov. 9.
The Elks Lodge is not a fraternity. Men and women can become members, but they must be at least 21 years old. For more information on joining the lodge, contact 715-394-7403 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.elks.org.