The Fort Oglethorpe Kiwanis Club's highest honor - traditionally reserved for Kiwanians - will go this year to two local lawmen.
"This is the first time we've taken the awards and opened it to the public," Kiwanis President Chris McKeever said about the honor for contribution to the community through profession and volunteer service.
The honorees this year will be Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers and Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, Mrs. McKeever said. She cited their leadership in efforts like the Stocking Full of Love campaign to help needy children at Christmas and fundraising for a new North Georgia YMCA.
IF YOU GO
The Fort Oglethorpe Kiwanis Club's distinguished service awards program will be April 29. The civic club meets at Hutcheson Medical Center. For more information, visit www.kiwanisforto.org.
Sheriff Summers said he thinks of the job he's had 20 years as "full-service law enforcement."
"We have a responsibility of providing service for citizens which involves service of warrants and civil papers and investigating crime," he said. "But I use the term 'full-service law enforcement,' which means we identify a need and try to fill that."
He said those needs are met through efforts such as the Stocking Full of Love, the seniors programs and education programs with schoolchildren.
"All of it works together," said Sheriff Summers.
Mrs. McKeever said the Distinguished Service Award is a Kiwanis International recognition. The Fort Oglethorpe club presented it for the first time last year, honoring Judy O'Neal, owner of UCTV-3, and Dr. Ray Brooks, past president of Northwestern Technical College.
"It was very easy to choose the sheriffs," she said, noting they frequently work with Kiwanis programs. "We know many of the extras that go into their job and both departments are supportive of our efforts in the schools."
Sheriff Wilson, serving his fourth term, said he appreciates being recognized.
"Today in the office of sheriff, you are not only a law enforcement officer," he said. "People look to you for trust, and when you attach our names to civic endeavors, people trust our judgment and know if we are involved, it's a worthy organization."