Rotary adds three to Circle of Heroes

Englewood club chooses school, police, fire personnel

Tom Munds
The three new members of the Englewood Rotary Circle of Heroes shake hands with one of the club members. The honorees are, left to right, Debby Moomaw, police dispatcher, Dan Alley, fire department driver, oprator engineer and Angel Agular, head custodian at Englewood Middle School.
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Three names were added to the Englewood Rotary Club's Circle of Heroes at the club's April 30 meeting.

Honored this year were Dan Alley, Angel Aguilar and Debby Moomaw. Dawn Shepherd heads the club's Circle of Heroes program and talked about this year's honorees.

“The people we honor are our friends, our neighbors in the police department, fire department and school district who serve the people of Englewood community,” she said. “We are honoring three people today, but all the police, firefighters and school district people are our heroes.”

The head of each honoree's organization read the individual's nomination and each new member of the Circle of Heroes made a few comments.

Fire Chief Andy Marsh read the nomination for Alley.

He said Alley joined the Englewood Fire Department as a firefighter in 2001 and was promoted in 2006 to driver-operator-engineer.

“Metro-area fire departments have long been a part of the annual Labor Day effort to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, but Englewood hadn't been a part of that for a number of years,” Marsh said. “In 2010, Dan headed the effort to get volunteers to help with the Labor Day event.”

The chief said Alley got a late start, obtained approval to do the fundraiser and collected more than $2,000.

“He worked on the project and organized it better each year,” Marsh said. “In 2013, Englewood Fire Department collected more than $24,000 in donations for MDA.”

Alley spoke briefly. He said his wife Bernadette's name should also be on the award because she has stood beside him and helped with the MDA projects each year.

He also introduced his son Daniel, who is a Denver firefighter, and his son John, who is a Vail firefighter, and added that his brother is a captain in the Littleton Fire Department. He added he felt he had the best job in the world.

Brian Ewert, school superintendent, introduced the district's honoree, Angel Aguilar, who is head custodian at Englewood Middle School.

“We have 200 support people in our district who keep our schools clean, well-maintained and safe,” Ewert said. “Angel is one of those people, and he is being honored today for his actions that probably kept a middle-school girl from being harmed.”

The superintendent said Aguilar was driving to a meeting when he saw a blue van following a girl on her way to the middle school. He said Angel felt it looked wrong, so he followed the blue van and copied down the license plate number.

“The driver of the van noticed he was being followed and drove away,” Ewert said. “Angel notified school officials of what he saw and school officials called the police. Police traced the plate and found it belonged to a registered sex offender. We believe Angel's action kept the girl from harm.”

Aguilar thanked the Rotarians for the honor. He said he has been in Englewood School District 10 years, loves his job and wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

Police Chief John Collins introduced his department's honoree, Police Dispatcher Debra Moomaw.

He said Moomaw began her career in law enforcement in Eugene, Ore. When she and husband moved to the Denver area, she sought to continue in law enforcement and accepted a position as an Englewood Police Department dispatcher.

“Deb has lived thought the pen and paper dispatching system to the technology of today with the 911 phones and computer-aided dispatch equipment,” the chief said. “She was working the day of the Columbine tragedy and on duty when the Arapahoe tragedy occurred. She picked up the Arapahoe call on the Arapahoe County Sheriff's radios; her experience told her the sheriff would need help, so she immediately dispatched our officers to assist at the scene. Our officers arrived at Arapahoe within four minutes of the report of shots fired at the school.”

He said dispatchers are key to making sure there is a quick response from the police and fire departments to calls for assistance from the city's residents.

“The role of the dispatchers has been overlooked far too long,” Collins said. “The complicated, stressful work they do doesn't make the evening news but is essential to what we do. Previously, police officers have been selected to the Circle of Heroes, but if it were not for dispatchers like Deb Moomaw, there would never have been officers of the year.”

Moomaw thanked her family for their support during her career.

“I am honored by this award. My name is on it, but it isn't about me; it is about the fact we are a team and everyone's name should be on the award,” she said.