HAGERSTOWN, MD (May 14, 2021) – The Washington County Division of Emergency Services celebrated the graduation of Recruit Class #1 from the Firefighter Academy and graduates from the Emergency Communications Academy at Hagerstown Community College Kepler Theater. 29 firefighter cadets have been in the classroom and in the field training over the past 8 weeks. On Friday evening, these men and women walked across the stage as graduates of the inaugural Washington County Firefighter Academy. In addition to the Firefighter Academy, 14 emergency communicators graduated from the Washington County Emergency Communications Academy.


Chief John Tippet, Director of Fire Service Programs for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation delivered the keynote address to graduates. Tom Riford, Assistant Secretary of the Division of Tourism, Film, and the Arts from Maryland Department of Commerce – Office of Tourism Development, served as the master of ceremony for the graduation. In addition, Delegate Williams Wivell, President of the Board of County Commissioners Jeff Cline, and President of the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association Dale Fishack all delivered congratulatory remarks during the ceremony.


Director of the Washington County Division of Emergency Services Dave Hays said, “We are very excited to celebrate today’s graduation of the County’s 29 new firefighters and Emergency Communications Specialists. As many of these men and women report to work tomorrow morning, their impact will be immediate. The addition of full-time firefighter staffing, work alongside the volunteer workforce, represents yet another step in ensuring the sustainability of public safety throughout the County. The road to get here has certainly been long and stressful; however, the impact that these dedicated firefighters will be significant. This is another significant step as the Commissioners continue their support of public safety and our County volunteer fire and EMS community. The Emergency Communications Center remains ready to serve the community and the addition of these new Emergency Communications graduates will provide additional depth in shift coverage. The Emergency Communications Recruits have undergone training in 911 call taking, fire, EMS, and police dispatching, as well as geographic and radio communications techniques. We congratulate all of the recruits and welcome each of them to our Team.”


County Administrator John Martirano said, “I am very excited to celebrate the graduation of the inaugural class of the new Washington County Firefighter Training Academy. I congratulate these hard-working and dedicated individuals on this outstanding achievement. These new firefighters will work side-by-side with our outstanding volunteers and will make a significant difference in the lives and safety of our citizens.”


The 2021 Firefighter Academy was made possible by the SAFER grant, which was awarded to the Division of Emergency Services in September 2020 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This amount is proposed to fund up to 33 firefighters over the next 3 years. As a recipient of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) program, the funding will aid in reducing response times and enhancing firefighter and public safety throughout Washington County.


President of the Board of County Commissioners Jeff Cline said, “Tonight we celebrate the men and women who have chosen to dedicate their life’s work to public safety. We recognize the many sacrifices that will be made as they serve the citizens of Washington County. These are the heroes in our community who are here when we need them most. Your support of our volunteer system will ensure public safety into the future.”


The graduates from this academy will place three (3) firefighters on duty each day at four (4) strategically located volunteer fire stations throughout Washington County. The firefighters are intended to help augment our volunteer workforce by ensuring that dedicated staffing is available in various regions throughout the County.


For questions or more information, please contact the Public Relations and Marketing Department at pr@washco-md.net.

Joy El “Igniting Hope” Capital Campaign – for immediate release

For Immediate Release                                            May 17th, 2021




Joy El is pleased to announce the dedication of the newly constructed Welcome Center, Part one of the Igniting Hope in Generations that seek Him Campaign. This campaign is dedicated to provide desperately needed additional space for dining and housing for staff and guests.


“In 2005 we began long-range planning for the needs of the ministry. Revisiting the plan 15 years later confirms the need for additional dining space, more offices and more housing”, explains Aaron Ziebarth, Executive Director of Joy El.


Following the completion of the Welcome Center (part one), planned renovation and expansion of the Dining Hall (part two), and construction of the Shepherd’s Lodge (part three), Joy El will be able to reach and serve even more people with the hope of Jesus for years to come.


Dick Marks, Chair of the Capital Campaign, noted that “To have quietly raised over $1.6 million during an international pandemic is inconceivable, but God did it. As leaders, we’re blessed that He has allowed us to be part of this anointed effort to enable Joy El to share the hope of Jesus more effectively.” 


For the past two years, directors, staff and volunteers have diligently worked to receive funds generously provided to complete the first phase of this campaign, the Quiet Phase. Immediately following this dedication of the Welcome Center on May 16, 2021, the final, Public Phase begins, Monday, May 17, 2021.


“I am so grateful for the generous provision of the Welcome center. God has used generous individuals, churches and businesses to enable us to build debt free”, says Aaron Ziebarth, Executive Director of Joy El.


Joy El is committed to completing the campaign through the Public Phase and constructing these facilities debt free. At the beginning of May, sixty percent of the anticipated funds for all three parts (three buildings) have been received from generous partners. Joy El is continually looking ahead, actively watching as God provides these remaining 40% of funds through the generosity of His people in the Public Phase.


Joy El serves many children, teens and adults through Bible Adventure and CIA (Christians in Action) programs, 4.12 Leadership Training Program, summer camps and hosting church groups. Find more info at joyelcamps.org and joyelgeneration.org.


Please contact Nate at 717-369-4539 or nate@joyel.org to receive more information about the Igniting Hope in Generations that Seek Him campaign and how to partner with Joy El.