ROGERSVILLE — Recently retired Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency director Gary Murrell was honored Monday with a gift that symbolizes his four decades as a first responder, and the people he inspired to follow that same path.
Commissioner John Metz read aloud a proclamation during Monday’s commission meeting honoring Murrell, who stepped down as EMA director on Sept. 3 after 12 years of service.
Metz then presented a special gift to Murrell which was paid for by private donations — an original stained glass creation by Clinch Valley artist Bobby Merrithew of Clinch Mountain Gallery.
Among the donors was Metz’s wife Beth Metz, a nurse practitioner who was inspired to enter the medical profession after receiving training from Murrell as a young Rescue Squad member.
“There's not too many things for a man who has dedicated his life to public service — that you can just go and pull something off the shelf or order from amazon,” Metz said. “In honor of your many years of dedication on behalf of all elected officials and employees of our great county, and most importantly the citizens of Hawkins County, I present to you a special memento of our appreciation that is as unique as your service”.
Metz explained that the center of the glass has a tree that signifies the continued fruitfulness of Murrell’s service and its impact on future generations.
Surrounding the center image are thin lines with corresponding colors representing each department in which he has served.
“The imagery represents the willingness of brave men and women who protect and serve our communities by standing between chaos and order, peril and safety,” Metz said. “It unites as a common thread the brotherhood of all those willing to serve their fellow man.”
Metz added, “Gary, you've inspired a generation of people to serve our community with courage and talent for which we are all thankful.”
Murrell was also awarded a Public Service Commendation read to the commission by Metz.
Murrell had been a first responder in Hawkins County since 1977 when he joined the Hawkins County Rescue Squad, and later became a volunteer firefighter with the Rogersville and Striggersville departments.
He was later an EMT with Hawkins County EMS and a member of the Hawkins County HAZMAT, as well as a corrections officer and narcotics detective with the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office before being named EMA director in 2007.
Murrell was recently awarded the “Certified Emergency Management Professional Award” by the International Association of Emergency Manager.
Reading from the proclamation Metz stated, “It is with great honor that we pay tribute to the selfless dedication of a true public servant.”