The Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce announced the city’s Police Officer and Firefighter/Paramedic of the Year during the 25th annual awards banquet Monday night.
Officer Dave Haley was named the Police Officer of the Year and Jacob Cardona was named the Firefighter/Paramedic of the Year.
Haley, 59, is the community services officer for the Harker Heights Police Department. He has worked for the department for 17 years in a variety of capacities and has established himself as a dedicated, hardworking and respected representative of Harker Heights, Police Chief Mike Gentry said.
Nominated for the honor several times before, Haley said he was ecstatic to receive the award this time around.
“It’s an honor just to be nominated and I don’t do this job for any type of accolades,” he said. “For me, this award just affirms that I have been going in the right direction all along.”
Prior to joining the department in 1996, Haley served in the Army for 21 years before retiring as a first sergeant at Fort Hood in 1996.
Gentry said Haley brings a lot of professionalism and experience to the department and has demonstrated his never ending support of department programs.
For four years, Haley has been single-handedly responsible for “Blue Santa,” which involves the acquisition, restoration and delivery of more than 40 bicycles to community children at Christmas.
“It may have been my idea, but it would still be just an idea if people didn’t donate their old bikes to me, if the department didn’t give me the time to work on the bikes or if businesses didn’t make donations,” he said. “An idea is just an idea until everyone comes together to make it happen. I couldn’t do it alone.”
Cardona, 31, started with the department in March 2008. He is a front line driver/operator and has stepped up to the role of lieutenant when needed.
“We had a lot of nominees, so it wasn’t an easy decision since they were all deserving,” said Harker Heights Fire Chief Jack Collier. “What set him apart from the other candidates was his attitude. He is the most positive, can-do employee we have.”
Cardona has worked as a field training officer on board the ambulance and served as a fire skills instructor.
“This award means a lot because I work hard and well with all the employees, especially my C shift crew,” Cardona said, “This is a great honor and I couldn’t have picked a better department to work with.”
He is currently completing his fire officer course to further advance his career within the department.
“I told him right before he went up to get his award that I’m proud of him and I wish I could clone him,” Collier said. “He is everything that an emergency service organization is looking for and we are happy to have him.”
Collier said Cardona was nominated by the community and his co-workers for having a strong work ethic, integrity and values that are apparent in every aspect of the work he does. He is always ready and willing to help anyone with a positive attitude.
“Who knows, maybe one day he will take my place, but that’s exactly what I want,” Collier said. “He’s our go-to, can-do guy and the guys on his shift really look up to him.”
Contact Vanessa Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7567.