By Mike McClure

The Fruitland Chamber of Commerce held its annual Holiday Social and Awards Banquet on Nov. 21 at the Black Diamond Lodge. The Chamber presented Outstanding Firefighter/EMS, Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer, Outstanding Business, and Outstanding Citizens of the Year awards with Dave Ryan, Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development, serving as the guest speaker. Senator Mary Beth Carozza and Delegate Carl Anderton, Jr. were also on hand to pay tribute to the award winners.

Ryan, who was introduced by Fruitland City Manager John Psota, said he played Little League baseball in Fruitland.

“It was on those fields that I learned not just baseball but life’s lessons,” said Ryan. “It was my first introduction into community, although I don’t really think I appreciated what community really was at the time.”

Ryan said technology applied to ag, industry, manufacturing, education, retail, healthcare and many other professions.

“Change is coming and it’s coming fast and it will be those communities that embrace that change that will thrive in years to come,” Ryan said. He added that having a sense of community is important.

Fruitland Fire Chief Robin Townsend presented the Outstanding Firefighter/EMS Award to Greg Twigg. Twigg has served as Secretary, Treasurer and President (current president) and a line officer. He is also First Assistant Chief Engineer.

Spencer Wiersberg received the Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer award for his work in

DUI enforcement. Despite facing health challenges, he made 700 stops and 90 arrests (25 DWI arrests) in less than 10 months.

“You will continue to always have the love and support not only in Fruitland but across the state,” Carozza told Wiersberg.

Morning Star Publications, which publishes the Salisbury Star, was named the Outstanding Business for 2019.

“We had our best month in October (which featured Fruitland) and it’s because of you,” said Salisbury Star VP of Marketing Greg English. “We try to focus on the positive news.”

Chamber Immediate Past President Dave Pfingst introduced Jeff and Diana Merritt, the Outstanding Citizens of the Year.

Jeff is a member of Rotary, Fruitland Chamber, Salisbury Chamber, and the Greater Salisbury Committee. “Jeff could not do any of these things if Diana did not run the store and take care of things,” Pfingst said.

The couple also works to provide care packages to men and women overseas twice a year through Operation We Care. The most recent effort provided 1,200 packages for military members serving overseas. They also support local law enforcement and the fire department.

“I’ve never heard Jeff say ‘I can’t do that’,” said Pfingst.

Local churches, grade schools, and nursing homes help decorate panel on the flaps of the boxes and various organizations help gather the items that go into the packages.

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers. We thank you for helping us to do what we love to do,” Diana Merritt said.

“It’s actually an honor to do what we do,” said Jeff Merritt. “I can’t speak highly enough of all of our volunteers. It takes everybody working together to make things happen.”