An awards ceremony held Tuesday by The Exchange Club of South Augusta for its annual Public Safety Awareness Day was bittersweet.
In light of Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy James D. Paugh’s recent violent death, none of the public servants present was in a festive mood.
Paugh was shot by a Fort Gordon-based National Guardsman when he stopped on Bobby Jones Expressway at Gordon Highway to investigate a vehicle that had pulled onto the grass, according to an incident report released Tuesday.
Charles Stevens, the president of the Exchange Club, opened by thanking the officers present for “what you do,” acknowledging that it was a sad time for all.
Retired Sheriff Charlie Webster then said a prayer for Paugh and for his co-workers, family and friends.
Although Stevens said the ceremony usually starts with the firefighter award, this year the sheriff’s office was honored first.
Deputy Kenneth Daniels won for solving a complicated burglary on Sugarberry Drive in February.
Lt. Robbie Silas spoke about Daniels, who has been with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for three years.
“Daniels brings what a 20-year veteran brings to the department,” Silas said.
Daniels was hesitant about receiving the award.
“It was hard to accept,” Daniels said. “Especially when (Paugh) gave the ultimate sacrifice. I felt undeserving of it.”
The winner for the Richmond County Marshal’s Office was Deputy G. Porter Freeman of the Airport Division.
He was cited for his work at Augusta Regional Airport, where his supervisor receives at least one compliment about him every week. He also holds free self-defense classes that are open to the public, and are catered to women, in which he teaches basic martial arts.
He, too, noted Paugh’s sacrifice.
“Thanks to the sheriff’s department. In the brotherhood of law enforcement, our hearts are with you,” Freeman said.
Six firefighters won for getting a woman and her young boy out of the River Glen apartment building Oct. 14. Lt. Ralph Jenkins; Sgt. Marc Jacobs; Sgt. Lynn Masters; and firefighters Donyal Amey, Eddie Anderson and Travis Petrea were all honored.
“It means a lot to have something good happen right now. It’s an honor,” Jenkins said.