Elks present firefighter, police and citizen of the year awards

rdymond@bradenton.comMarch 25, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Bradenton Elks Lodge 1511 on Sunday named its 2013 Firefighter, Police Officer and Citizen of the Year.

Honored were Bradenton firefighter/EMT William Weaver, Bradenton Police Detective Jim Curulla and Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston.

Weaver, 28, has never slacked in focus, performance or leadership this year despite concern for his 5-year-old son, Liam, who was diagnosed with a cancer of the right eye in late 2012 and receives treatment in Miami, said Assistant Chief David Ezell of the Bradenton Fire Department, who was on hand to see Weaver receive his award.

"When I heard the news about Liam I thought, 'Will would be out for months,' " Ezell said. "I think he's missed three shifts."

Liam has undergone four surgeries and faces another in April, said Weaver, a 2003 Manatee High School graduate.

Firefighting is in Weaver's blood. His father, Bill Weaver, is a Sarasota County firefighter. His grandfather, also Bill Weaver, fought fires in Elkhart, Ind.

"Will has become our 'go-to' guy," said Bradenton Fire Department Battalion Chief David Foxall, who also came to the lodge to honor Weaver.

Curulla said he wished to share his award with Bradenton Police Officer Carrie Ward. It was Ward who, during a field interview, included a detailed shoe description matching one of the suspects in a armed robbery with sexual battery case.

Due to Ward's field work, and Curulla's perseverance discovering who owned a dual-colored basketball shoe, Alex Johnson was charged with four counts of armed robbery and sexual battery and goes to trial at the end of April, said Bradenton Police Department Captain Warren Merriman.

Although Dinius and other

Elk members, like Dan Tabor, praised Poston for revitalizing downtown Bradenton, Poston said he is most proud of the increase in pay for firefighters and police since he took office in 2000.

"When I came into office, all of these guys were working two jobs," Poston said.

Poston also said a decision he made to assigned Carl Callahan, his chief of staff and treasurer, to deal with his department heads so he could "handle the big picture stuff," has worked out well.

Poston said that moveallowed him to get involved with the dredging of Ware's Creek, the new River-walk, renovations atMcKechnie Field, the resurrection of the Riverside Hotel and, last but certainly not least, the revamping of Manatee Avenue.

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