Prairie honors top firefighter

<I>The Eagle/Cheryl Jessup</I><BR>Firefighter of the Year Kenny Clingman is congratulated by Chief Dean Hicks.

PRAIRIE CITY - One of the younger members of the Prairie City Fire Department, Kenny Clingman, 22, was recently named the volunteer group's "2010 Firefighter of the Year."

Prairie City Fire Chief Dean Hicks announced the honor at the department's Christmas party in December.

Clingman, a 2007 graduate of Prairie City High School, has been on the force for about four years.

"It's an honor. It's something to be proud of that you can put on your resume," he said.

Clingman is the son of Diane Clingman and Joe Clingman, both of Prairie City. His older brother, RJ, works on a ranch outside Prairie City.

While at Prairie City School, Clingman was on the football and baseball teams, and along with two fellow gridiron team-mates, played in the Down Under Bowl in Australia in July 2007.

He has worked summers for the forest service and attended Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Wash., for two years.

This coming fall, he'll be heading to school at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany.

Like some of the other young firefighters in Prairie City, Clingman joined during high school, in his junior year. Hicks, who has been with the department for 22 years, the last three as chief, said, "They're willing to go through the training and all the work.

"You can't beat that."

Other Prairie City firefighters who were honored include Jim Sullens for 45 years of service, and Ed Negus and Marvin Rynearson, each marking 40 years.

As Prairie City Firefighter of the Year, Clingman had this advice, "Check your smoke detector regularly and don't hesitate to call the fire department if you have an emergency."

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