2007 John Manners Banquet:

The Wahoo Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department held its 57th annual John Manners Banquet on Saturday, February 17.  After a 6:00-7:00 p.m. happy hour, the banquet was opened with a reading of the Fireman’s Prayer, followed by a moment of silence in remembrance of our troops and firefighters lost during the past year.

Special guests were introduced by WVFD President Bob Chvatal. Guests included Saunders County Attorney Scott Tingelhoff and his wife Mary, Lion’s Club member Steve Gerdts and his wife Cindy, and Wahoo Mayor Daryl Reitmajer and his wife Venice, along with two City Council members and Rural Board members.

After a dinner catered by the Wahoo Locker, honorary members of the department were recognized for their longevity: Dr. John Hansen for 59 years of service (includes 10 years in Blair), and Don Jelinek for 55 years of service.

This year’s guest speaker was Scott Tingelhoff, who spoke on how things have changed in the four years since he took the office. Among other things, Tingelhoff cited the fact that during this time, his office has successfully prosecuted three homicides, and has filed a record number 500 felonies and 5,300 misdemeanor offenses. He used these statistics, along with the fact that Wahoo had as many as 50 inmates at one time during 2006, to support the necessity of a new correctional facility, a bond for which passed during the last election.  “That was something we desperately needed,” Tingelhoff commented.

Tingelhoff also addressed a grant received from the National Institute of Justice, which he plans to use to open three cold cases in Saunders County, including the murder case of Mary Kay Heese of Wahoo over 37 years ago, along with a case from Ashland and one from Cedar Bluffs. Tingelhoff hopes that advancements in DNA technology will help law enforcement to finally put these cases to rest. “These families would like closure, and hopefully we will be able to give that to them,” Tingelhoff said.

WVFD Chief Corey Wagner presented pins for years of service to the following members: Kristin Bohac (5 years), Chris Jonas (5 years), Chris Rappl (5 years), and Jim Nelson (10 years).

The Wahoo Lions Club has presented awards for the past 23 years to members making the most number of rescue calls during the year. Representing the Lions Club was Steve Gerdts, who presented the awards for most calls made during 2006 to the following: Josh Trutna (132 calls), Michelle Libal (171 calls), Don Jonas (183 calls), Jim Nelson (219 calls), and Ron Voboril (232 calls). “We really appreciate being able to do this and give you this honor,” Gerdts stated.

The annual Eager Beaver awards were then presented by Doc Hansen for the inevitable follies that occur throughout the year. Ironically, this year’s awards were given to two of our leaders: Chief Wagner received an award (a snake bite kit) for turning on a valve before all of the hose was off of the truck, and First Assistant Chief Mark Meyer received an Eager Beaver (a box of matches without tips) for unsuccessfully trying to put out a fire with a garden hose.

Following the presentation of awards was a slide show assembled and presented by Joe Vculek, offering a photographic history of the department and community from the early 20th Century to present day, along with the trials and tribulations that accompanied it, including past and present fires and natural disasters going back to the tornado of 1913. Most of the black and white photographs were taken by Wahoo’s own Art L. Anderson Photography.

The banquet was concluded with drawings for door prizes.  This annual banquet is held in remembrance of Wahoo native John Manners, who was Chief of the Wahoo Fire Department for 40 years in the early 1900’s.

President, Bob Chvatal, addresses the members.

Doc Hansen presidents the annual "Eager Beaver" awards.

County Attorney, Scott Tingelhoff, is the Banquet's guest speaker.

Fire Chief, Corey Wagner, gives a congratulatory hug to Kristin Bohac for her 5 years of service.

Fire Chief, Corey Wagner, congratulates Chris Rappl for his 5 years of service.

Fire Chief, Corey Wagner, gives a congratulates Jim Nelson for his 10 years of service.

Don Jonas receives an award from the Lion Club President, Steve Gerdts, for going to 183 rescue calls during the year.

Steve Gerdtz, Lions Club President, recognizes Ron Voboril for responding to 232 rescue calls.

Lion's Club Award recipients.