The Plains Alliance Church gym was the setting for a surprise party and dinner to honor two men who have together given the community of Plains nearly 50 years of volunteer service on the fire and ambulance services. Nearly 50 people were there to share the appreciation, gratitude and friendship with John Meckler and Stephen Welty, who have made a difference in the lives of so many people who were going through a fire or medical emergency.
Meckler, who is 74 years of age, and Welty, who is 64, were brought to the church gym to be given awards and a dinner. The surprise party was held to show them how their friends, neighbors, family, and community members greatly appreciate, value, and respect the many long years of dedicated volunteering done by both men.
Five individuals were responsible for organizing this recognition, awards presentation, and dinner.
“It is mostly family here tonight. The people who helped put this together were Cara Eberly, myself, Melissa Reyna, Kaylee Cook, Victoria Good, and Mike Bedick,” Barbara Steward said.
Appetizers, punch, coffee and ice water was set out early while many of the friends, family, community members, and others socialized before things began.
Mike Bedick, who is currently involved with many different emergency agencies, including Deer Lodge ambulance, Rocky Mountain Rescue, and the Search and Rescue, asked everyone to settle in after they completed 10 more minutes of socializing. Bedick then spoke to everyone present,
“They were there, sometimes knowing and other times not knowing after the low tones had sounded and had woken them from their sleep late at night or very early in the morning. These two men have almost one half a century in volunteer time with the fire and ambulance services in this community. We wanted to thank these real heroes, to recognize them for that dedication and service,” he said.
Everyone gave a long round of applause, after which the men were each given an award.
Meckler spoke a few moments later after being given his award.
“I think it was when Western Hardware burned that I joined,” he said. “Glen Hadley was the one who put out the call for volunteers then.” He paused a moment and then said, “Wait, no it may have been after the VFW had burned down.”
Welty spoke moments later.
“I think we need to get the call out to the younger people now, we are too old for it,” he said.
Both men then posed for pictures with their awards before being called to the dinner of ham, turkey, carrots, potatoes, and more. Family, friends, peers, church members, and community members each spoke with the men, bringing back the many different memories and personally thank both men for their many years spent in the dedication of helping save lives.
Reporter Douglas Wilks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-826-3402.