Sunday afternoon (November 18) in Colon was highlighted by beautiful autumn weather and a small parade of vehicles with sirens sounding as they approached and entered the grounds of the Colon Fire Department on M-86 on the west side of the village. (Sirens audio clip – :19)
The occasion reflected the revival of a ‘Chief to Chief tradition’ that welcomed Matt Overholt as the recently-selected chief of the Colon Fire Department.
Ed Rangler, chief of the Centreville Fire Department, described the practice this way in an e-mail message to help organize the event:
Participating Sunday at Colon were representatives of the Colon Police Department, St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, St. Joseph County E-911/Central Dispatch and the Three Rivers Fire Department.
Three Rivers Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson addressed Overholt as the group arrived and said, “This is your official ‘fire chief welcome’ from St. Joe County.” (Dan Tomlinson audio clip – :10)
Overholt started his involvement in the fire service with the Leonidas Township Fire Department and joined the Colon Fire Department in 2008. He became fire chief at Colon in July, succeeding Tim Doenges following his resignation from the post.
Overholt described the fire service as “an awesome thing” and said, “We’re all a big family.” He said the best thing about being involved in the fire service is “friendship . . . working together with other people.” He indicated that the most challenging part of the fire chief’s position is dealing with budgets.
Beyond his responsibilities with the fire department, Overholt is married to Jessi and is employed as a CNC operator at XL Machine of Three Rivers.
Regarding the Sunday afternoon visit by his public safety colleagues, Overholt indicated that he was surprised and pleased.
The Colon Fire Department is a joint venture of the Village of Colon and Colon Township, governed by a five-person fire board consisting of two representatives from each governmental unit, plus one at-large member. Overholt said the department currently has 18 active firefighters at this point and indicated he hopes to add four or five more in the upcoming year.
For additional insights about Sunday’s activity and the new fire chief at Colon, click on the following link to hear the interview with Matt Overholt recorded by Bruce Snook of the River Country Journal: Matt Overholt interview – 2:34 – 2.35 MB).