2018-07-05 / Front Page

39th Annual Hero Awards Dinner honors Those Who ‘Put Service Above Self’

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


Todd Claerhout was given the Police Officer of the Year award by Police Chief Tom Osterholzer (left to right). 
Photos by Tanya Terry Todd Claerhout was given the Police Officer of the Year award by Police Chief Tom Osterholzer (left to right). Photos by Tanya Terry BURTON — The Burton Rotary Club hosted its annual Hero Awards Dinner on June 28 at IMA Brookwood Banquet Center, and it was truly a night to remember.

Chief Tom Osterholzer presented the award for Police Officer of the Year to Todd Claerhout.

According to Osterholzer, during Claerhout’s first week in the department, Claerhout was assigned to the detective bureau where had the opportunity to observe and assist on a search warrant of a residence where a suspect was wanted for a string of violent armed robberies and Claerhout located a gun there.

Claerhout is also member of the United States Airforce Reserves.

Claerhout said the chief’s speech meant the world to him when accepting the award.

Fire Chief Marv Epperson presented the award for Firefighter of the Year to Battalion Chief Chris Metropolis who accepted the award on Josh Mather’s behalf.


The award for Firefighter of the Year was presented to Battalion Chief Chris Metropolis who accepted the award on Josh Mather’s behalf by Fire Chief Marv Epperson (left to right). The award for Firefighter of the Year was presented to Battalion Chief Chris Metropolis who accepted the award on Josh Mather’s behalf by Fire Chief Marv Epperson (left to right). Metropolis said Mather had been with the department for three years, which made it pretty good for him to already be receiving the award.

Metropolis said Mather’s dad was former member of the Burton Fire Department and started bringing Mather up to the fire station when Mather was about 12.

“He was the kid that would grab a broom, grab a mop, help wash the trucks, help bring reload hose, anything he could do to be part of that group he was willing to do,” Metropolis said.

He said Mather paid for himself to get a firefighter certificate and follow in his father’s footsteps.


Matt Sherwood presented the Veteran of the Year Award to Steve Welch (left to right). Matt Sherwood presented the Veteran of the Year Award to Steve Welch (left to right). “I was personally able to go into a fire with him,” Metropolis said. “He was the front man.”

Metropolis said because of Mather’s efforts, the fire department was able to save the family’s irreplaceable items in their home.

Mather also helps his community by ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, sitting on the Fire Prevention Force and collecting money for muscular dystrophy.

Matt Sherwood presented the Veteran of the Year Award to Steve Welch. Last year Vet Biz Central, which Sherwood is executive director of, partnered with Bentley Florist, which Welch co-owned with his wife from 1970-1976, and along with 103.9 WRSR-FM radio station they did Salute the Troops.

Welch was a member of the U.S. Navy from 1970-1976, reaching a rank in his career as radioman and second class petty officer. Welch served in various parts of the Middle East and Northern and Middle Africa. He is now an active member in Burton-Greater Flint business community and is active in boards, such as Vet Biz Central, American Legion Post 28, the Burton Chamber of Commerce and serves on various boards. Mayor Charles Smiley also proclaimed October 21, 1998 as Steven Welch Day, and Welch was selected as the Burton Citizen of the Year in 2001.


Rene McMann awarded the Auldin H. Nelson Scholarship to Andrew Witten from Atherton High School Rene McMann awarded the Auldin H. Nelson Scholarship to Andrew Witten from Atherton High School “I’d like to accept this award on behalf of all the men and women serving in our country today and in the past and, even more importantly, the wounded veterans and the veterans that have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Welch said.

Rene McMann awarded the Auldin H. Nelson Scholarship to Andrew Witten from Atherton High School.

Witten has been involved in his school’s musical program and regularly performs at Burton Memorial and Veterans Activities. He also provides music therapy for individuals in local nursing homes. He was a founding member of Atherton’s Robotics Team. He is a National Honor Society Member and he represented the student body on the Atherton School Board.

Witten received a four-year scholarship for $1,000 a year and stated service to his community has always been a value for him.

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