First Responder of the Week: Lindsey deputy fire chief Jason Conklin
Lindsey is halfway between Cleveland and Detroit just south of the Turnpike in Sandusky County.
The all-volunteer fire department serves about 1,200 households and covers 55 square miles. And it did that with a crumbling, obsolete fire station, housed in a building built in 1897.
Deputy fire chief Jason Conklin had a plan. He launched a capital campaign to raise money for a new fire station.
How much did the campaign raise? "About $850,000 in pledges in nine months," Conklin said.
That money helped build a spacious, functional new fire station. Conklin also got the money to build a second Lindsey fire station to cover neighboring Rice Township.
Conklin's dedication to his community's safety makes him our First Responder of the Week.
The 25-year veteran firefighter credits his community for getting the funding together to build a new fire station.
"They see we're volunteering our time and we go the extra step on calls," he said.
But the chief credits Conklin.
"I've been on the department for 52 years and we've not had anybody in our department that's done what Jason has done with the grants and taking care of this," said fire chief Russ Zimmerman.
Along with the capital campaign, Jason has secured over $825,000 in grant money for everything from new fire engines to hazmat supplies, for a total of more than $1.5 million dollars for his fire department.
Jason became a firefighter, in part, because it's in his blood. The chief and his brothers, Dave and John Zimmerman are Jason's uncles. And Jason's brother-in-law, Jim Seibert, is also on the force.
But Jason also had a bigger reason for wanting to give back.
"I had major health problems when I was younger. I had three kidney transplants so I was looking for a way to give back to my community because my community gave a lot to me when I was younger," he said.
Jason's wife Jennifer nominated her husband for First Responder of the Week.
"He's like my hero," she said. "I wanted to do something to show my appreciation for all that he does for our community and to keep us safe and help and protect us."
It takes a special person to respond to the call, in all kinds of weather, no matter the hour and to do it all for free.
"I don't know if I would need pay," Jason said. "I would do it anyway."