BURRILLVILLE – Police were out in force at Burrillville Middle School on Wednesday evening, but it wasn’t on official business – as, for the first time in two years, it was time to celebrate,
After having missed out on their annual celebration last year when the state was shut down, this year’s participants in the Burrillville Police Department’s 2020-2021 Awards Ceremony & Heroes In Our Community Celebration seemed grateful to again gather to appreciate and honor their own.
Joining them were their families, as well as politicians, firefighters, and business people from the town, along with police and firefighters from other Rhode Island towns.
The ceremony was led by Major Albert Carlow, Jr., and he began by recognizing those who died during the pandemic.
The pandemic, said Carlow, “has challenged us in ways we never imagined.”
However, he added, “it brought out our best.”
Carlow praised law enforcement as, “heroes in every sense of the word.”
He especially noted their courage.
Mia Ferris, 13, daughter of the late Harrisville firefighter Ryan Ferris, gave a moving rendition of the National Anthem.
And the audience joined in as children of Burrillville officers, ranging in age from tiny tot to young adult, recited the Pledge of Alliance. The invocation was delivered by the department chaplan, Deacon Richard Lapierre.
Lapierre asked for God’s protection for the people who protect the safety of the town. Lapierre asked particularly for God, saints, and in particular Saint Michael the Archangel to, “stand guard with us as we are called to serve.”
Saint Michael is the patron saint of police.
The Deacon also asked God to, “give wisdom that we may see all sides of every issue and choose the best possible outcome.”
Col. Stephen Lynch lauded, “the men and women of the Harrisville, Pascoag, Oakland, and Mapleville Fire Departments, in every call for service, no matter the risk to their own personal health, getting in close and getting care to the infected, injured, and the sick – professional, dedicated, unwavering true heroes in every sense of the word.”
Town Manager Michael Wood recognized the personal sacrifice and courage of the first responders, “brave people who have made this community a better place through this pandemic.”
Town Council President Donald Fox reminded the audience that, “as the world just about stopped, our first responders did not; they continued to work.”
Rounding out the speeches was Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha.
He said when he reflects on what sacrifice means, the image that will remain in his mind is, “the children who were on this stage to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Neronha reminded the audience that law enforcers are, “putting their lives on the line for you and for me.”
Awards were presented by Lynch and Carlow to about a couple dozen honorees, plus one four-legged guest of honor, K-9 Rex.
A highlight of the annual event is always the Lees Award, given in honor of the late Chief Wallace F. Lees, who served 30 years as a member of the Burrillville Police Department and 20 as a member of the Burrillville Town Council before his death in 2014.
“The epitome of a public servant, Chief Lees bled Burrillville blue,” Lynch said. “He had a kind heart- a truly humble man described as empathic, compassionate, wise, thoughtful- always there for people going through a difficult time.”
“We see tonight’s 2020 and 2021 Chief Lees award winners as matching these qualities of Burrillville Public service and empathetic, kind, bright, compassionate individuals who have spent a life time giving to this community,” Lynch said.
The 2020 Lees award recipient was Nancy Binns, who, according to the colonel, “has a resume that is all about giving of herself to the town of Burrillville in so many ways.
Binns spent 15 years with the Burrillville Ambulance Corps in a career that included delivering a baby roadside at the waterfall.
A member of the Berean Baptist Church for close to 30 years, she received the Burrillville Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award which she shared with her father George, in 1980.
Binns was recognized in 2017 by the RI Council of Churches as a partner in faith.
A member of the Burrillville Town Council for 12 years, Binns was named council president in 2006. a position she held for eight years. As council president she served as a member or liaison with the Downtown Pascoag Neighborhood Association; the Zoning Board; the Ordinance Subcommittee; the School Committee; the Senior Center Feasibility Study Committee; the Administrative Audit Committee and the Sewer Commission.
She led the Jesse Smith Library construction project, drove forward major upgrades to the Burrillville Police station which included building the Municipal Court Room and community room, led renovations to the Levy Rink, the school administration building, the Spring Lake Beach facility, lighting at Hauser Field and was instrumental in the creation of Hero Park, according to Lynch.
Binns established the Pascoag Dam Management Association, the Burrillville Extended Care Program and the Rubbish and Recycling Committees.
“In Burrillville she modernized tax credits for the disabled, seniors and veterans in this community for more effective benefits to those most in need,” Lynch said. “She wanted nothing but the best for Burrillville’s school system and was known for her tireless work ethic and get it done mantra on so many difficult projects and negotiations.”
“Having served with Chief Lees on the Town Council you would have thought they were from the same Burrillville upbringing as their lives has always been about making this community a better place to live,” he added.
Kathan Mospaw Lambert was named the 2021 Wallace F Lees Award winner.
Mospaw Lambert taught in the Burrillville school system for 35 years at Callahan School and Burrillville Middle School. She ran the BMS drama club, and served as president of the Burrillville Teacher’s Union for 10 years.
She obtained her law degree while teaching and created, introduced and coached Mock Trials for Burrillville middle school and high school students. She and her late husband Pete served as volunteer statisticians for the Burrillville High School Hockey teams from 2002 to 2020. Mospaw Lambert also served as the on call tutor for hockey players in need of help academically.
She is a former member of the Burrillville Bicentennial Commission, in 1976.
The award recipient was a 15-year board member and chairperson of the Burrillville Organization for Substance Abuse Prevention, known then as BOSAP; president of the Shoestring Players; and a member of the Burrillville Lions Club. Mospaw Lambert has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Pascoag Library Ladies Association since 2005, and has been the association president for the last three years.
She is starting her second year as a member of the William Callahan School Improvement Team.
A member of the Burrillville Juvenile Hearing Board since 2011 and chairperson since 2015, Mospaw Lambert is known for having students maintain adherence to JHB curfews by calling her personally at home at night to compliance, according to Lynch.
The complete list of awardees from the 2020-2021 ceremony is below.
Burrillville Police Department Commendations
Major Albert Carlow, Jr.
Detective Rebecca Carvalho
Det. Lieutenant Guy Riendeau
Officer Vincente Baffoni
Lieutenant William Lacey
Officer Jennifer Baker
Lieutenant Jason Eddy
Officer Bret Simas
Lieutenant Jason Cahill
Officer Ryan Turner
Sergeant Brian Pitts
Officer Geoffrey Cicatiello
Sergeant Kyle Genereux
Officer Eric Harris
Sergeant Ryan Hughes
Officer Alexander Rosa
Sergeant Henry Yakey
Officer Sean Mulkern
Sergeant Robert Veader
Officer Wayne Richardson
Dispatcher Keith McCarthy
Officer Kathleen Kelley
ACO Kerry Courtemanche
Officer Holly Barrett
Deputy ACO Dan DiBattista
Officer Jason Nault
Burrillville Police Department Retirement Recognitions
Major Dennis Leahey (Ret.)
Officer David Beauchemin (Ret.)
Dispatcher Glen Biddiscombe (Ret.)
Dispatcher Richard Lapierre (Ret.)
Animal Control Officer Ronald J. Woods (Ret.)
Outside Agency Members Receiving Commendation Awards
- Oakland-Mapleville Fire Department Lieutenant Lori Poirier
- Pascoag Fire Department Rescue Captain Thomas Smith
- Burrillville Police Dispatcher Keith McCarthy
Community Hero Awards
- Michael Coyne – Red, White & Brew Coffee Shop
- Benjamin St. Pierre – Ben’s Lemonade Stand
- Amanda Bourquin
Lifetime Achievement Award
- RISP Lieutenant John Grassell (Ret.)