Chincoteague Recognizes First Responders; Resident Requests Demolition and Burn Regulation

Chincoteague EMS personnel at the Chincoteague Town Council meeting Tuesday, July 5, pose with citations given for their lifesaving efforts in two incidents. From left, Thomas Copenhaver, Patricia Drewer, patient Don Lukens, James Wheatley, and Madison Savage. Absent but also receiving a citation was Seth Jonczak. Photo courtesy of Denise Bowden.

By Carol Vaughn — Five Chincoteague first responders were recognized at the Tuesday, July 5, Chincoteague Town Council meeting for their lifesaving actions during two incidents.

Bryan Rush, Chincoteague director of emergency services, presented citations to Jamie Wheatley, Madison Savage, Seth Jonczak, Patricia Drewer, and Thomas Copenhaver.
Rush said first responders rarely get recognized for their work.

One of the patients, Don Lukens, who suffered a heart attack in May while camping at Jellystone Campground, recovered and attended the council meeting Monday along with family members.

Wheatley, Savage and Jonczak provided advanced life support care to Lukens, who was transported to TidalHealth in Salisbury for additional treatment.

In a second incident, on June 19, 2021, Drewer and Copenhaver responded at 4:20 a.m. to a childbirth in Atlantic. When they arrived at the scene, the Chincoteague responders met with an Accomack County Department of Public Safety paramedic, who advised the baby had been delivered and was in cardiac arrest.

The crew began lifesaving efforts and transported the baby, who was delivered prematurely at around six months and weighed around 2 pounds, to TidalHealth. The baby during transport began to breath on her own and to have a heartbeat. She is now “living a healthy life at home with her family,” according to the citation.

Rush noted police and other first responders also deserve recognition, saying, “There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes.”

“Thank you for all you do,” Mayor J. Arthur Leonard said to first responders in attendance.

Resident Asks Council to Regulate Demolition in Residential Neighborhoods
Chincoteague resident Patricia Farley during the public comment period spoke about issues with demolition and burning in residential neighborhoods, asking the council to consider new ordinances to better regulate those activities.

“We are not in the middle of a field in Accomack County,” she said.

Farley said the owner of property next door to her home has been doing demolition work, including burning building materials, for several months.

“He refuses to use a Dumpster and instead now has large piles of debris around the property,” she said, calling it “not only an eyesore but a real hazard.”

Farley said another neighbor had to refund a rental fee to would-be renters because of the conditions.

Town Manager’s Report
The town took delivery of anew floating dock for Curtis Merritt Harbor, which will be installed this fall, according to Town Manager Mike Tolbert.

Additionally, a new floating kayak launching platform and gangway was delivered to replace the ramp destroyed last year at Memorial Park. The launching facility was installed and work on the gangway will be going on next week.

Tolbert on June 29 spoke with Wallops Flight Facility’s Jeremy Eggers and with Phillina Tookes, government and community relations manager from the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The topic was changes to proposed legislation that would provide up to $14 million to Chincoteague to relocate the town’s wells from Wallops Flight Facility property.

Tolbert asked NASA to change the period for using the funds from five to ten years and to change the language to allow for the possibility of using desalinization as well as ground water for new drinking water sources. Tookes is requesting those changes on the town’s behalf, Tolbert said.

Resurfacing of tennis courts and a basketball court was completed and a new four-court pickleball court also was completed, Tolbert said.

The Building and Zoning Department in June issued 44 building permits, with a total construction value of $370,806.

Police Chief R.K. Fisher reported the police department was awarded a grant for the second year of a school resource officer at the high school, with no local match required. The department is applying for a grant for an officer at the elementary school.

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