News Release: San Luis Valley Efforts Recognized at Annual Emergency Management Conference

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Strategic Communications Director
Micki Trost

Centennial, Colo. – March 13, 2017 — Each year the Colorado Emergency Management Association (CEMA) and Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) host a large conference for Colorado emergency managers and responders. This successful event provides a host of wonderful speakers, educational break-out sessions and networking opportunities. More than 400 people attended the 2017 Annual Colorado Emergency Management Conference.

The highlight of the conference is the annual awards ceremony recognizing the efforts of emergency managers and first responders from across the state. The awards include: Emergency Manager of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Mike Gelski Award for Outstanding Service and a Public/Private Partnership Award. The San Luis Valley (SLV) Region efforts were well represented with four of the statewide awards.

Richard Wetzler from Costilla County received both the Volunteer of the Year Award and Mike Gelski Award for Outstanding Service. Wetzler is an active member of the Alpine First Response Team at Forbes Trinchera. He is a committed member of the SLV Citizen Corps almost since inception. Wetzler is a gentle, kind and humble spirit who represents a wonderful volunteer spirit.

Terry Wetherill received the Emergency Manager of the Year Award. Wetherill is the Mineral County Emergency Manager at the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. Wetherill is part of the Search and Rescue Team, Mineral County Fire Department and Mineral County EMS. He is a retired Veteran after 29 years of Service in the Armed Forces. Wetherill works with the Town of Creede and Mineral County to improve emergency preparedness and response.

Francis Song received the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award. Song is the Alamosa County Emergency Manager and also works as a Victims Advocate for the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office. Song is also a Veteran served as an Officer in the United States Air Force. He has set the bar very high for Emergency Management taking on many projects and initiatives in his short time with Alamosa County. Song began his career with Alamosa County in August of 2015 and is constantly absorbed in various activities.

DHSEM congratulations each of the award recipients and thanks them for representing this special region.


Photos available on Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Flickr site:

Background Information:

Regional All Hazards Emergency Manager of the Year Award: This CEMA award is open to all of the nine all hazards regions and is based on career achievement, overall contribution, regional coordination, specialized projects or proven leadership in the field of emergency management.

Rookie of the Year: A single CEMA award available, statewide for an individual, with no more than two years in the field of emergency management (full-time career) whose work ethic, communications ability, collaborative nature or special projects achievements has shown his/her commitment to the field of emergency management.

Mike Gelski Award For Outstanding Volunteer Achievement: A single CEMA annual award for an individual who is in a volunteer position, for at least two years, supporting the tenets of comprehensive emergency management. Mike Gelski was a volunteer with the Salvation Army whom is held as an ideal example of an Outstanding Volunteer. This award honors his memory.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Award is given by Colorado DHSEM to one outstanding volunteer in each region of the state.