STYX RIVER, Alabama — Annual elections were held at the Oct. 5 board meeting with all members present and entitled to vote for all administrative positions.
Chief Courtney Dunbar and assistant chief Mike Holston were re-elected for another year. Other officers include firefighters Beth Dunbar, president; Daryl McGill, vice president; Tami Lloyd, secretary and Amanda Silkwood, treasurer.
Tina Holston was re-elected director and two young firefighters, Grace Ellison and Cole Dunbar, were voted in to fill the two remaining director positions.
Charter organizer of Station 65, deputy chief Hubert Dunbar and his wife, dispatcher, Alice Dunbar, announced their retirements after 40 years of service. In addition, vice president, Joyce Glenn and treasurer, Tyler Glenn announced their retirements after 23 years of service.
Hubert Dunbar has seen his department grow from a rag-tag group of volunteers, using almost non-functional equipment, scattered in barns and sheds in a rural section of the county, to a modern facility housing some of the latest firefighting equipment available.
Under Dunbar’s leadership, the county fire departments have been receiving property tax funds since 1990. Many are not aware of his work with local and state representatives to secure these funds.
“Baldwin County citizens voted for the referendum back then and today all departments,” Dunbar said, “including municipalities and rural departments in the county, have modern facilities, fire apparatus and safe personal protection gear.”
Alice Dunbar remembers the way the firefighters communicated back then.
“In 1980, there was no county wide 911 Emergency Response System like we have now,” she said. “Telephones, then CB radios, were the only means of alerting our firefighters to emergencies.”
Her services have continued over the years until her retirement this month. Styx River VFD was unique in having its own dispatcher to coordinate calls with 911 operators. Alice Dunbar, acted as the link, allowing the 911 operators to communicate just with her, resulting in less over-the-air traffic.
She said she will miss talking to her firefighters and the 911 operators but she won’t miss doing it in the middle of the night. “And how soon can you get that 70-foot tower out of my yard?” kidding of course. Maybe not.
Both Hubert and Alice Dunbar have received their local department’s Firefighter of the Year Award and both have been named Firefighter of the Year county-wide.
Joyce and Tyler Glenn stated they never thought of being members of a volunteer fire department but a chance emergency, brought the two parties together.
Tyler Glenn’s mother had an emergency and 911 was called. Hubert Dunbar arrived as a first responder along with the EMTs in the ambulance. It was raining so hard, the ambulance got stuck in the yard and the fire truck was used to pull it out.
After the ambulance left, the two met for the first time and Dunbar asked Glenn, since he was retired, if he could help out in the fire department.
During the day, when most members are at work, was when someone was needed. “What could I say after the response to my mother,” Glenn said. He joined and then got his wife involved because she has medical training and 23 years later, both are ready to step aside.
“I’ll be 83 in two months,” Glenn said. “We’ve had a good run and now it’s time to get off the bus, make that fire truck.”
Both have received the department’s Firefighter of the Year Award.
At the election night meeting, both couples were made honorary members and will continue to be associated with department gatherings.
“As you can see from the family names, firefighting and rescue response is a family affair,” said Chief Courtney Dunbar. “We invite you to be part of the family. If you are interested in talking to us about how you can help, please come by the station on any Monday night and let us show you around.”