Amsterdam Hometown Heroes

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Street commissioner, fire chief recognized for exemplary work

By Eric Lowe

CCM Contributor                                

Two Amsterdam officials were recognized recently as part of Amsterdam’s Hometown Heroes program.

Police Chief Tyler Yoho recognized the achievements of Street Commissioner Tommy Wright and Amsterdam Fire Chief Jason Gallagher and his department for their exemplary work within the village during recent council meetings.

Commissioner Wright was nominated for the month of January as “Hometown Hero” by the Amsterdam Police Department. Wright has served as street commissioner under three different mayors, including Mike Morgan, Gary Pepperling, and now Jim Phillips.

Pepperling remembers working with Wright as being more of a friendship than a working relationship.

“I’m glad he stayed on with me because he’s one of the best guys I ever had to work with and is the nicest young man I’ve ever met in my life, I consider him one of my best friends,” said Pepperling. “Tommy is a mechanical genius. He knows everything there is about cars and trucks. When it comes to mechanics, Tommy can do anything from the ground up. He loves that kind of work so his time is almost always spent in his own or the village garages. Tommy really has a hold on things now that he has access to a 4-wheel drive truck with a snow blade/salt spreader and the new Holland tractor that was provided to the village by a grant last year. He is thrilled about the new equipment to help get his job done,” he added.

Engine repairs isn’t the only thing Wright you’ll see him working on. He can also be seen painting curbs prior to parades, filling the salt truck in preparation for pending snow storms and cutting the grass and maintaining the grounds at both village parks. Wright also goes out of his way and clears snow covered parking lots, such as The Church of God, VFW, and other community parking lots that need snow removal for the safety of the community. Pepperling said, adding, “Tommy always told me what needed done and he did it. He always knew exactly what needed done and goes above and beyond what is asked of him. I have seen him stop if someone needed help getting out of their driveway, often shoveled snow for the elderly, and always helped kept village roads and sidewalks clear.  It’s the little things Tommy does that isn’t necessarily in his job description that he likes to do for people. I never interfered with what Tommy was doing because it was always for the good of the community,” Pepperling stated. 

“Tommy does a phenomenal job,” praised Phillips. “The village is extremely blessed to have him. Even when I get into crazy projects for the village outside of his duties, he is the first to get his hands dirty right beside me”.

Phillips announced Wright’s recognition for being a Hometown Hero and informed him of the positive reaction from the village residents.

“Tommy is Old School and takes extreme pride in his work. I know this made him very proud,” Phillips added.

Fire Chief Jason Gallagher and the Amsterdam Fire Department were recognized as the December Hometown Hero for showing “exemplary courage and dedication” to the Amsterdam community. Chief Gallagher has been on the Amsterdam Fire department for 10 years and the chief for 6 years.

“Chief Gallagher and his staff lent his ‘AeroClave’ device used to heavily sanitize items and prevent COVID-19 spread to the Police Department whenever needed to further assure the safety of the citizen, Yoho said, adding, that by doing so, Gallagher and his staff kept the first responders safe and available to answer emergencies.

“He has also sanitized the Community Church of God and village buildings for village functions,” Yoho added.

“The fire Department has been an integral part of Amsterdam’s toy drive, parade organization, Memorial Day ceremonies, and subtly given back to the community in so many ways,” Yoho said. “From fighting fires in the cold and leaving their families behind, no matter the occasion to protect yours to being there when your loved ones have medical emergencies, they are always available to help whenever we have called them.”

Councilman Anthony Thomas, who is also an Amsterdam Volunteer for the EMS and fire department, has worked under Chief Gallagher’s command for the past four years.

“Chief Jason is a great guy to work for. During calls, Jason does a great job at taking command of an emergency operation, including directing other departments responding. He is very well composed and definitely knows all there is to EMS and firefighting,” Thomas said.

Thomas also mentioned the improvements the department is experiencing in both continuous training and obtaining certified education for department volunteers to better help the chief and the wellbeing of Amsterdam’s residents.  

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