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ARFD honors Sellars

AHOSKIE – He never rushed to the scene of a fire, hurriedly put on his turnout gear and joined his brave comrades to extinguish a blaze.

For that matter, he never drove a fire truck, scaled a ladder while dragging a heavy hose or attended a single class dealing with fire training.

But yet when someone asks what name is the most synonymous with the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department (ARFD), the answer will most likely be J.O. “Jim” Sellars.

That fact is now recorded history as during a pig-pickin’ held April 25 the building which has housed the ARFD since 1994 was named in Sellars’ honor.

Perhaps it was only fitting that the event was held on the 25th. For 25 years, Sellars served as Chairman of the ARFD Board of Directors. As a matter of fact, it was at his very first meeting as a director (April 9, 1984) that he was elected as the chairman of the five-member board.

During that quarter-century of leadership, Sellars provided sound advice and judgment while the department was growing. New vehicles and equipment added in with an increased emphasis on training has led the ARFD to improve its rating, thus lowering the homeowners and business insurance rates of the district served by the department.

On the advice of his doctor and his family, Sellars recently resigned his seat on the board due to health concerns.

“It has been through Jim’s leadership that the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department is what it is today,” said R.D. Matthews, who as the ARFD board’s vice-chairman moved to the lead seat following Sellars resignation. “His love of this fire department is unequaled.”

Matthews continued, “He put a lot of time and effort into making sure that, number one, those living within the rural fire district were served with best equipment and manpower, and, secondly, that the money received by this department, the majority of it coming from the fire tax assessed to property owners living in the district, was properly accounted for and properly spent.”

Veteran ARFD Board members Pansy White (secretary) and Robert Earl Brinkley (treasurer) each presented plaques in Sellars’ honor. White’s presentation was one that Sellars is to keep – an Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. The plaque revealed by Brinkley will forever be displayed inside the ARFD building. It reads, “In recognition of 25 years of dedicated service as Chairman (April 4, 1984 – March 9, 2009) of the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department, this building is dedicated in honor of J.O. “Jim” Sellars.”

During the meal and the plaque presentations, Sellars sat with his family – his wife, Eunice, his two daughters, Lisa Newsome and Amy Freelander, sons-in-law, John Newsome and Mike Freelander, and grandchildren Holli and Jamie Newsome.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Lisa Newsome said they were appreciative of the honors bestowed upon their loved one.

“Daddy loved this fire department and had a deep respect for the firemen and the board members,” she noted. “You could hear the pride in his voice when he spoke of this department.”

Former ARFD Chiefs Bobby Askew and Paul Cherry, former Assistant Chief Chuck Munford and current Chief George Michael Bradley all praised Sellars for his leadership and for his one-on-one interaction with them, helping each to learn the importance of balancing administrative duties with their roles as firefighters.