West Jeff community members recognized

The Village of West Jefferson recognized two community members for their service, both recently but one throughout their life time.

During a village council meeting this week, West Jefferson Police Officer Matt Stevers along with James and Barbara Saunders were commended by the members of council.

The Saunders couple were awarded a certificate, posthumously to Mrs. Saunders who recently passed away.

“Both of them have dedicated their lives to the residents of West Jefferson and to the American Legion,” said Council President Steve Johnston.

Mayor Ray Martin read a letter penned by the couple’s daughter, which celebrated Mrs. Saunders’ life and service to others.

Most of all, she and her husband worked for the local American Legion post to bring a sense of community for the area’s veterans as well as celebrate American patriotism. She served on several administrative positions for the organization locally as well as statewide, including charity commissions. Some of her work was recognized nationally by the Legion earning her awards.

“Barb organized many activities for the retired and active servicemen of Ohio,” read Martin. “[She] started a collection for necessities and comforts of home to send in care packages for our local soldiers overseas. She also donated and compiled and donated packages for disabled veterans at the VA hospital in Chillicothe. She also hand sewed goodie bags for everyone at the hospital.”

Mrs. Saunders also organized the West Jefferson Bean Festival, the predecessor to the modern Street Fest every Fourth of July.

Mr. Saunders, a former drill sergeant during the Korean War, was also recognized for his 46 years of membership in the Legion. At one point he was the local Post Commander and commander of the Sixth District.

Every Memorial Day, Mr. Saunders works with local Boy Scouts to place flags on veterans headstones at five local cemeteries.

In 2001, he was awarded for his service to veterans. In 2010 the West Jefferson alumni presented him a citizenship award and inducted him into the veterans hall of fame by former Ohio governor Ted Strickland and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“I wish to thank you mayor for this actual memorial to my wife,” said Mr. Saunders. “I really was second to her in all the work. She loved the village.”

Shortly after being awarded, Mr. Saunders went back to the legion hall to continue working for his community.

Also awarded for his service was Officer Stevers, for performing CPR on a resident in distress.

“Ladies and gentleman, we all know the world is sadly getting crazier every day, sadly we are not exempt and our officers face new challenges every day,” said Johnston.

“When they wear the badge they face the prospect of making the ultimate sacrifice to enforce our laws and protect the residents of West Jefferson. That’s why we take the pleasure in recognizing Officer Matt Stevers who when called upon saved a life. Now that individual has a future.”

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James Saunders, left, smiles while shaking the hand of West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin after he and his wife were recognized for years of community service.
https://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_DSCN8970.jpgJames Saunders, left, smiles while shaking the hand of West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin after he and his wife were recognized for years of community service. Maximilian Kwiatkowski | The Madison Press
Police officer and veteran couple awarded by council

By Maximilian Kwiatkowski

For the Madison Press

Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached on Twitter @msfkwiat.