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Repeat winner, first female recipient get fire, police officer of year awards

By Jeff Gallatin

North Olmsted

One’s a repeat winner, and the other is the first female to win the award; but both of the 2013 North Olmsted city fire and police officers of the year have long resumes, which explains why they received their respective honors.

Lt. Ken Hehnen got the fire department honor, while Patrol Officer Angel Walling received the police department award. The two were presented their awards by the North Olmsted VFW at a Nov. 20 dinner with many of their family, friends and co-workers present.

Both award winners are getting well-deserved recognition, according to the chiefs of their respective departments.

Hehnen, who also won the award in 2000, does many things for the fire department, Chief Ed Schepp said.

“When I joined the department a few months ago, I quickly learned Ken is a go-to guy in the department,” said Schepp, who became chief when Tom Klecan retired. “His knowledge of the fire service in general and our department in particular is outstanding.”

Schepp said Hehnen is deeply respected by other members of the department, as well as other fire departments and medical and safety agencies that work with him.

“He’s in charge of our EMS squads, and their high level of skills and response is owed in great deal to how he handles them,” Schepp said. “Plus, he’s an excellent firefighter at the scene of an incident and in the station.”

Walling, who is the first female recipient of the award, does many things well, police Chief Jamie Gallagher said.

“Angel Walling is a conscientious officer who takes pride in her work,” Gallagher said. “Angel is an evidence technician, field training officer, CIRS (Westshore Critical Incident Response Service) member, FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) honor guard chairwoman, union negotiator, self-defense instructor for the dispatchers and secretaries, and the first female officer of the year.”

Gallagher said it was evident early on that Walling would be a top officer.

“Angel is a pleasure to work with, and when she was interviewed for this job, (then) Chief (George) Ruple decided that he was going to hire her before she made it out to her car,” Gallagher said. “I am proud of Angel, and she has a nice career in front of her.”

Both Hehnen and Walling indicated they were honored to receive the award.

“I think it’s as much an award for the firefighters I work with as much as it is for me,” Hehnen said. “The guys do great work on the EMS squads, and we had great teamwork when we had to deal with Superstorm Sandy and a high-rise apartment fire, all of which were cited when they talked about why I got the award. We all have to work together closely, and we do that well around here. I’m fortunate to have such great people to work with.”

Hehnen, who also worked for the city of Cleveland fire department before joining the North Olmsted department, said he set high achievement goals when he decided to become a firefighter more than 30 years ago.

“I wanted to do well, because it’s the type of job where you’re helping people and doing something which makes their lives better,” he said.

Walling said she appreciates the respect from her peers in getting this type of award.

“I know I work with a lot of great people in all the different areas of police work that I’m involved in,” she said. “It’s a great honor, and I do appreciate it.”

 

 

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