Fire inspector, deputy receive awards in Delhi

Jun. 22—A state fire inspector and a Chenango County Sheriff's Department deputy were named the top two students at the New York State Firearm Instructor Course in Delhi Thursday, June 22.

Sixteen law enforcement officers from around the state attended the New York State Firearm Instructor Course at the village of Delhi pistol range, Capt. James Small, Delhi Village Police Department training coordinator, said. Officers from Albany, Herkimer, Greene, Chenango and Sullivan counties, the city of Norwich and the state fire investigators attended the two-week, 80-hour course in Delhi, he said.

Small said officers from neighboring states also have taken the course at the Delhi range.

During the two-week course, officers were tested and instructors compared notes to see who was the top shooter and the best overall student.

Small said instructors add up all the student's scores and the one with the best score is named top gun. This year's top shooter was Chenango County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Cory Transue, he said. In addition to a certificate, T-shirt and baseball cap from Small, Transue received certificates from state Assemblyman Joseph Angelino, R-Norwich, and state Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus.

Oberacker said whenever he sees someone in law enforcement he makes a comment about how they stay motivated to work. "Then I say I'm so glad you do," he said. "Everybody has hard jobs, but I don't think there is any group that has a harder job than law enforcement."

The next award was the Richard R. Kelly Memorial Award. Kelly was a firearms instructor for 12 years and also was a trainer for fire departments and emergency services departments, Small said. Kelly died in 2022 and this is the second year the award has been given to the top student in his memory.

Small said the instructors compared all the students, not only for their technical skills but also for their helpfulness and the students who "best emphasized Rich's character.

"It was not an easy decision. There are 16 great students here," he said.

The award was given to state Fire Investigator Philip Kibbe, who lives and works in Elmira. Kibbe said it "was very humbling" to receive the award named for a man who not only taught firearms instruction, but also fire and emergency services instruction. "I didn't expect it," he said.

Kibbe's name will be engraved on a plaque in the training center where winners' names will be engraved, and it will be placed by a photo of Kelly, donated by his widow Mary Torma-Kelly.

Torma-Kelly said friends submitted a photo of Kelly to the Emergency Services Memorial Facebook page and Dan Sun created a painting from the photo. "In the photo, Rich was much more serious, but he captured him as less stern," she said. "When the photo was placed on the Facebook page everyone was tagging me to make sure I saw it."

She said she has a bigger print she will place on the wall of her house next to his fire department certificate and medals and her cross stich hangings.

Following the award ceremony, everyone in attendance was treated to a barbecue dinner.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.