OFD Chief Caleb Shepherd presents Tim Gruis with the FotY award.

Tim Gruis was named Firefighter of the Year by the membership of the Onida Fire Department and received a fire axe award during the Fireman’s Ladies Night event Saturday.

Recognized for their longevity of service to the department were Don Ramler, 35 years of service; Mike Wiley, 20 years of service; and Michael John Oliver, 15 years of service.

In making his remarks following the meal, OFD Chief Caleb Shepherd thanked everyone for coming. Honored guests included the members of the Onida City Council and the Sully County Commission.

Shepherd introduced the 2021 OFD officers: Kevin Heath, 1st Assistant Chief; Ben Minihan, 2nd Assistnat Chief; Training Officer Josh Bakker; Treasurer Danielle Rausch; Secretary Brian Ring; and Trustees Scott Currier and Mike Wiley; and Historian Brady Weischedel.

The working relationship the OFD has with the Blunt Rural Fire Department, the Pierre Fire Department and the Agar Fire Department was also acknowledged along with their chiefs, Travis Heuertz, Ian Paul, and Eric Falkenhagen respectively.

Shepherd thanked former department member Trevor Lightfield for lending his artistic talent to creation of the FotY award axe, and offered him a gift of cigars. Danielle Rausch for her creativity and dedication was also praised.

“We had a busy year in 2020,” said Chief Shepherd. “The department responded to 53 ambulance calls and 12 fire calls.” Of special note was Bobby Ramler’s response to 41 of the 53 ambulance calls. “Thank you to Bobby and Sarah and Onida Electric.”

Two firetrucks were acquired in 2020, a city truck purchased from the Pierre Fire Department’s fleet and a new grass rig.

Through the Ruth Bayne Trust, the OFD has arranged for the purchase and installation of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) at three Sully County locations: West Prairie Resort, Buhler Shop, and Thomas Ranch.

The department also distributed the Ringneck Energy hand sanitizer.

“We get a lot of support from the community, from businesses, and from farmers and ranchers from the surrounding area,” said Shepherd. “Thank you to everyone for turning up in support of the department.”