When ice paralyzed much of Central Texas last February, scores of good neighbors gave of their time and expertise to provide needed shelter in the frigid storm.
The Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday gathered a community to celebrate a special group of unsung heroes in a luncheon at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
One of the 10 groups singled out was the maintenance crews making up Killeen ISD Facility Services.
Representing a category called Major Business, KISD Facility Services “worked relentlessly to repair broken pipes and damaged facilities in order to bring our students back to a warm and safe learning environment,” according to the program description.
Executive Director for Facility Services Adam Rich joined staff members Jason Bryan, Terry Williams, Antonio Zaffoni, Darron Schlessiger, Brent Beeksma, Dennis Synner and Jason Wolf to receive the honor.
Dozens more from the department could have joined the group if they could fit on the civic center stage.
Recalling the days in February, Rich said for most, “just getting out of the house” seemed like a heroic act.
With no expectations, the facility director said that members of the KISD crew with personal four-wheel drive vehicles chose to venture out and check on school district buildings.
“Those who felt comfortable getting out, put their personal lives on hold and their efforts probably saved taxpayers and the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
In some cases, workers shut off water, preventing further damage to buildings.
Eventually, the department labored to assess damage in all the school district’s campuses and other structures and coordinated with emergency services and contractors to make repairs where needed.
“Each individual went above and beyond in their own way,” Rich said.
Back in February, as crews continued to work, the facility director said, “Our maintenance, cleaning services and construction teams have been working tirelessly around the clock to ensure we have our facilities prepared for a safe reopening.”
“Maintenance staff in particular worked through very difficult conditions beginning last Friday, through the weekend and all week to ensure we stopped any active leaks as quickly as possible.”
Other honored community heroes include the following:
Military - Fort Hood Military Jeepers transported essential workers to the hospital.
Healthcare – Dr. Barbara Chinn served throughout the pandemic and winter storm.
State/City – City of Killeen Building Services maintained essential services during storm.
Volunteer – Shyrl Peek assisted in getting residents access to COVID-19 vaccine.
Emergency Service – Killeen Fire Department working around the clock to answer enormous rush of calls.
Small Business – Iron Gauntlet Brauhaus provided drinking water, warm place to stay, boiled 150 gallons daily for those in need.
Church – Greater Vision Community Church Nursing Team operated vaccine clinics – retired Sgt. Judenia Wilson and retired State Nurse Pauline Terry-Culbert.
Non-Profit – Central Texas Disaster Action Response Team acquired needed supplies for businesses and citizens.
Everyday Citizen – Steven and Kristen Rossler, operators of Blue Chord BBQ fed more than 3,000 people and provided firewood for those who needed through winter storm.