MINERVA-The Town of Minerva proudly announced their 2011 Citizen of the Year. At a time when so many fire and rescue departments are struggling to recruit and retain volunteers, it is appropriate that the 2011 Citizen of the Year is Minerva Fire Chief Kerry Killon of Town Shed Road.
Perhaps you've seen Kerry and his lovely wife Joyce cruising around town and the region on their motor scooters-they've been riding scooters for the past five years, and it's one of those activities that serve to keep them young. Married for 48 years ("We're shooting for 50 years," according to Joyce), Kerry and Joyce have plenty of stories to tell about their work and community experiences. Both are natives of Minerva, and know their town pretty darn well.
For thirty years, beginning in 1975, Kerry worked for the Minerva Town Highway Department as a dedicated public servant; he knows the Town intimately. He also knows the Minerva Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad very well. He has been an active member of the Department for 48 years, and for 24 of those years has served off and on as Fire Chief. Kerry is indeed being recognized for his volunteering service: "I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do", he said. Joyce maintained that chiefs' wives deserve recognition, too, with "all that time waiting up for the chief."
Currently, Kerry is Chief of his department, staying active by running drills and responding to both emergency medical and fire emergencies. Back in the late '80s and early '90s, Kerry was an emergency medical technician, combining his fire-fighting service with his emergency medical skills. He would also become involved with area forest rangers in needed search and rescue efforts in the area; he's got great stories about successfully predicting where lost hikers would likely turn up. He remembered helping searchers get a sense of how a lost hunter or hiker could panic at night. "We were at the Northwoods Club, looking for a lost hunter one night. I had my searchers turn out all their lights so we all could see how hard it would be for someone who is lost and panicking."
Kerry and Joyce spent about the first eight of their 48 married years working as fire-watchers on area fire towers, including on Vanderwhacker, Adams and Goodnow Mountains. In fact, the fire-watcher cabin at Vanderwhacker in Minerva was their "honeymoon cottage" according to Joyce. Both also worked to maintain the trails to the fire towers on these mountains. Joyce said their daughter Kim "loved being on Goodnow" as a kid. According to Kerry, from the Goodnow fire tower, "You could see deer swimming in Rich Lake, and on clear days could see the factory towers in Tupper Lake. It was beautiful."
Kerry feels honored to be named Minerva "Citizen of the Year." Kerry is serious about his continuing community volunteer efforts. He said that his Minerva Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad needs more volunteers. He acknowledges that it is "very tough to get people to make a serious volunteering commitment in terms of time and energy." Nevertheless, volunteers such as Kerry are necessary to keep communities strong and healthy. Kerry Killon will be honored as Minerva Citizen of the Year during a ceremony at the opening of the Minerva Historical Society Museum at 2 p.m. on Minerva Day in Olmstedville, July 2.