CHARLESTON – Senator Dr. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, presented Benwood Volunteer Fire Department Chief Michael Joseph Smith with the Distinguished West Virginian award August 24 at the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association convention at Grand Vue Park. The Distinguished West Virginian Award, which honors a citizen’s service to West Virginia, is the highest award that can be presented to a citizen by the Governor. Senator Maroney presented the award on behalf of Governor Jim Justice, who designated Chief Smith for this honor.
Maroney was joined by Senator Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, and Delegates Mike Ferro, D-Marshall, and Joe Canestraro, D-Marshall.
Smith, who has served as Chief of Benwood’s department for 50 years, also was presented with commendations from the House of Delegates and State Senate for his years of service to the City of Benwood and its residents. He joined the Benwood Volunteer Fire Department in 1958, when he was just 18 years old, and in 1967 was elected Fire Chief. Throughout his service to the City of Benwood, he has been instrumental in securing federal funding for new fire trucks and equipment, and was an integral part of the planning and building of Benwood’s new fire station.
“There are very few people who truly represent selfless dedication to service like Chief Mike Smith,” Senator Maroney said. “For almost 60 years, he has been on the front lines of protecting his community as a first responder, and has spent countless hours of his life training firefighters to be prepared for the most dangerous situations we could imagine. I’m honored to be able to present the Chief with these awards for his service, but we could never come close to truly thanking him for all he has given to the City of Benwood, Marshall County, and the State of West Virginia.”