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Dayton Chamber honors first responders

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    Dayton Police Officer Chris Duos and Dayton Volunteer Firefighter Jaime Villegas are honored at the Dayton Chambers First Responders Luncheon. Duos was named Dayton Police Officer of the Year, while Villegas was named DVFD Firefighter of the Year. The Vin
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    State Rep. Ernest Bailes speaks to local first responders Tuesday at the Dayton Community Center.

On Tuesday, it was a full house of local heroes at the Dayton Community Center for the Dayton Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon in their honor. This year’s theme was “Real Heroes Don’t Wear Capes, They Wear Badges.”

This year’s event was highlighted by a special recorded message from U.S. Congressmen Brian Babin, who praised all the hard work these men and women do daily. He also took a moment to recognize Dayton Police Officers Josh Fregia and Pepper Sterner for their heroism that saved a man’s life.

This year’s keynote speaker was District 18 Texas State Representative Ernest Bailes.

“It’s an honor to get the chance to be here today. Just to be in the same room with you guys and to not only do that but to get to represent you guys on the state level. Thank you is about all I can say. Thank you, those words are not said often enough, and thanks goes well beyond any words that I can say,” Bailes said to the first responders in attendance.

He spoke on his relationship with local first responders and how he came to interact with them for the first time following Hurricane Harvey.

“Bobby Rader, our constables, our DPS, all of our guys. That was my first interaction meeting a lot of those guys, more so than just an at glance introduction,” Bailes said, “We had issues that none of us could have ever saw coming, and I tell you everybody that’s here was present. You stepped up, and you made it happen.”

He spoke of their sacrifice during that horrific event and how some of the first responders did so much for so many, even in the face of personal loss for many of those men and women.

Bailes then moved to some of the things happening in Austin and their effect on locals. One such change related to benefits for volunteer firefighters that parish in the line of duty. A benefit that previously was not available to them but had since been made to remedy that.

Bailes wrapped up by talking about the growth coming to the district and preparing for the future before once again praising those in attendance for their dedication to the community.

After Bailes remarks, attention turned to the Dayton Police Officer and Dayton Volunteer Firefighter of the Year Awards.

Dayton Police Officer Chris Duos was surprised with the honor of officer of the year, while the DVFD honored Jaime Villegas as firefighter of the year.

Finally, door prizes galore were handed out to first responders before the event concluded.

The main sponsors were Enterprise Products and Chicken Express, while Pappy’s BBQ handled catering.