Retiring Firefighter, Police Officer Sign Off for Last Time

Last call for firefighter

City Editor Matt Saxton was putting the Saturday paper to bed Friday when Ohio County 911 was doing its 10 p.m. radio test. Radio tests or roll calls happen every night, so he and the staff usually tune them out. But it became obvious quickly that Friday’s test was anything but ordinary.

Fire stations throughout Ohio County took the opportunity during Friday’s test to say goodbye to Wheeling Fire Department engineer Dave Schaffer. It was his last night after about 20 years with the department. Schaffer retired Saturday.

“Gentlemen, thank you very much for all the well-wishes,” Schaffer said after the dispatcher called for Station 5, his voice cracking just a little. “It’s been a great, great ride.

“I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world,” he said as he paused to compose himself. “I’ve had a lot of good people working with me, I’ve had a lot of great guys working around me. And it’s been an honor to work with each and every one of you. Thank you very much, and I won’t be a stranger.”

According to a post on his personal Facebook page, Schaffer began working for a fire department in Brown Mills, N.J., in 1979 after serving in the U.S. Air Force. That means he’s seen more than 38 years of radio tests and fire calls.

Mr. Schaffer, congratulations on your retirement and for your service here in the Ohio Valley. We don’t know what you have planned ahead, but thank you for sharing your last radio test with us and please don’t be a stranger.

Signing off

A few miles west in St. Clairsville, police Officer Jeff Gazdik also retired on May 25. A video posted on social media shows Gazdik in his cruiser, speaking into his radio.

“I’ll be signing off for the last time,” Gazdik said into the microphone.

Dispatchers responded by thanking him for his service. Gazdik choked up a bit and fought back tears as he then put down his microphone and exited the vehicle.

He has served as a police officer for 27 years. During that time he also has been a school resource officer and a volunteer firefighter and medic.

Wildlife sighting

A relatively rare sighting of a bobcat occurred in Belmont County last week.

A newspaper correspondent returning home after Tuesday’s Barnesville Village Council meeting spotted the creature lying alongside Ohio 147 just west of Bethesda. He stopped and got out of his vehicle, approaching carefully because although the animal was not moving, he could not see any obvious signs of injury. Unfortunately, the animal was deceased. The correspondent photographed it and provided the image to the newspapers.

He then reported the sighting to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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