Pictured, left to right, at the Mt. Gilead Police Department’s awards banquet are Amber Lakey, Genny Beekman, Marysa Blanton, Beth Turner, Officer George Hinkle (standing), Chief Adam Lakey, Sgt. Chase Beekman, Officer David Blanton and SRO Michael Turner.

Courtesy photos | Village of Mount Gilead

The Endzone Bar and Grill in Mount Gilead rocked with applause on April 6 as awards were given to several Mount Gilead police officers and citizens.

Police Chief Adam Lakey presented awards and certificates following the banquet, which was also attended by several members of Village Council and the mayor.

“I am very proud of our police department,” Mayor Donna Carver said. “We have an incredible group of dedicated officers who truly care about their community.”

Sgt. Chase Beekman was named 2022 Officer of the Year. Officer David Blanton received the Eagle Award for most impaired driver arrests.

Officer Roger Meyer received the Outstanding Community Service Award.

School Resource Officer (SRO) Michael Turner, who is completing his first year as SRO in the Mount Gilead Exempted Village School District, received the Chief’s Commendation.

Capt. Thomas Cronenwett and K9 Nik received the Life Saving Award.

Cadets honored were Cadet Capt. Caden Mosher, Cadet Katie Statler, Cadet Robert Copeland and Cadet Mikayla Meyer. Cadets were honored with Meritorious Citizenship awards.

Officer George Hinkle received a Life Saving Award for saving a child who had fallen off a cliff at Rivercliff Cemetery in Mount Gilead.

Hinkle’s story is tied to the Citizens’ Commendation given to Keith and Donna Rogers.

The Rogerses were driving through Rivercliff Cemetery last summer to view the damage from a recent storm. Donna Rogers said they feel it was divine intervention they went into the cemetery because they almost went directly home after a long day away.

As they were driving slowly through the cemetery, they heard a child crying out, “Help, help,” and “I want my mommy.”

They got out of the car and told her to stay put as they talked gently to her to calm her down. They called 911, and Officer George Hinkle came to assist within minutes.

Both Donna and Keith Rogers call Hinkle a hero, and the police say the Rogerses call to 911 made all the difference in saving the child.

“He was awesome,” said Donna Rogers of Hinkle. “He didn’t hesitate. We couldn’t see her, and he looked for the best way down over the cliff and just went down.

He climbed down the cliff, slipping and sliding where he found the girl on a tree limb by Whetstone Creek. It was getting dark and the officer gave her a flashlight and had her lean forward as he helped her climb out of the ravine.

Donna Rogers said they pulled her up over the edge, then they just hugged her and hugged her as she got to them.

The little girl knew her mom’s phone number, and they were able to call her. She was safe with no cuts or bruises. She had wandered off and was quite a ways from home.

Hinkle also had no injuries except for his police uniform that was covered in mud and soil from climbing over the cliff on some very rough ground.

“We can’t say enough good things about Officer Hinkle. I don’t know what the outcome would have been without him going down there. It’s good to see we have such a great police department in our village,” Donna Rogers said.

Alberta Stojkovic is a correspondent for The Morrow County Sentinel.