Working at a radio station so ingrained in our community has truly been a blessing. For me, it took less than a year to feel a part of the Central Texas community and I can safely say that's the kind of warmth that keeps people loyal to their neighborhoods, their businesses and their people.

Here at Townsquare Media we've had the great fortune of being able to recognize Hometown Heroes nominated by you, the listener. Then with the help of sponsorship from Teleperformance in Killeen, we offer a Certificate of Appreciation as well as dinner for two at Pignetti's Italian Restaurant in Temple.

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, we take this opportunity to recognize all of our Hometown Heroes of 2016 - all part of Central Texas whether it's Temple, Killeen, Harker Heights, Belton, Salado, Copperas Cove and then some.


Regan Rollins - Killeen PD

Photo by Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Born and raised in Killeen, Rollins watched her mother work as a Harker Heights police officer for 35 years. She knew she wanted to follow her footsteps and has been an officer in Killeen for nearly 10 years. Regan was struck with Stage 2 Breast Cancer at the age of 27. She fought it through surgeries, chemotherapy and strength of heart.


Peyton Miller - Temple Charitable Spirit Leader

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

I had the pleasure of riding around with Peyton and her mother Holly Miller as they donated clothes and organized multiple charities at the same time. Peyton, a nine-year-old, spends most of her free time giving to the less fortunate including the foods in Baton Rouge earlier this year. I literally had 8 full pages of fundraisers and donation collections that she's been a part of in the last two years. I'm sure that list has grown substantially since.


Wendy Sledd - A Model for Military Life

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Wendy Sledd was born in Oklahoma, but since moving to Fort Hood four years ago, she's become a driving force for her local community. Sledd, a Public Information Officer for Copperas Cove ISD, spends all of her free time volunteering with both military groups and her community. Her dedication can actually be measured in numbers as she volunteered over 1,000 hours in the past year alone.


Shawnette Simmons - Good Teachers Are Definitely Heroes

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Born on Fort Hood, Ms. Simmons has been teaching Kindergarten for 9 years and doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. Her motivation is driven by the success she witnesses with her students.

“I love teaching Kindergarten,” she explained. “The kids are so eager to learn new things and experience new things.”


Kenneth Weddle - 19-Year Veteran

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Admirably described as a "devoted husband, father and above all a soldier," Kenneth Weddle has been deployed five times over his military career, living in Bosnia, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan (twice).

Kenneth is no stranger to the military as he’s been serving for 19 years all the while being a devoted family man. Nothing's more important than that.


Jared Koppes - Firefighter/Teacher

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

When someone takes on two professions because they want to make a difference and help people in this chaotic world, it’s important to take notice.

That’s why our Hometown Hero in August is Jared Koppes, a full-time Killeen firefighter/paramedic, medic certification instructor at Central Texas College and teacher at the Fire Academy in Killeen.


Milton T. Parker - Temple Police Officer

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

A graduate of Copperas Cove High in 2001, Officer Parker went to college at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas where he studied Kinesiology. After graduating he enlisted in the military and was stationed in Mannheim, Germany.

After serving six years, Parker settled back in his hometown with his high school sweetheart, Jennifer, and has two children – Madden and Manning. Think he likes football?


Migel Mata - Volunteer Firefighter

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Arguably one of our most modest Hometown Heroes, Migel is a volunteer firefighter who was won awards (he neglected to tell us about the awards but we found it!).

“I’m a community guy and just want to help – I didn’t expect any recognition for it,” said the leader for his local church youth group. “I’ve been here 5 years now and plan to stay. When that pager goes off, I’m ready – knowing I can be there to help somebody.”

Though he works full-time, volunteers as a firefighter and leads a church youth group, he is also an attentive father of four to Alex, Brennen, Cayden and Isabella.


 

Theodore Griffin III - Security Officer at Scott & White

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Originally from Virginia Beach, Theodore is an Army Veteran previously stationed at Ft. Hood for six years before using his skills to help protect the public and the employees at Scott & White.

In his three years at the hospital, Griffin has proven to be a dedicated full-time worker, full-time college student (due to graduate this Spring in business), and an amazing family man. Scott & White has previously recognized Griffin as one of their best employees.


Steven Cornelius - A Firefighter Since Age 18

Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Born and raised in Salado, Cornelius is extremely fitting to be a Hometown Hero. he has been a fire fighter since the age of 18 - first volunteering and then earning a paid gig at Killeen Fire Department. Even then, he still volunteers at the Southwest Bell County Volunteer Fire Department.

His wife, Brandi told me:

This man has his hands full but still finds time to be the best husband and father anyone could ask for. He loves the fire service and will help anyone who asks for it.


Tony Garza - Firefighter / Texas National Guard

He is a full-time student at the Fire Academy at McLennan Community College in Waco, he is training to be a firefighter and once he graduates the academy he will move on to emt/paramedic training. After school is out at 5 p.m., Garza goes to his job and never comes home before 10 p.m. On the the rare weekend off a month, Garza is off to serve with the Texas National Guard.

Sheeesh. I’m exhausted from just writing that!