STONE CREEK -- This year, the Stone Creek VFD is celebrating its 60th anniversary of public service, as members plan their annual fireman's festival in August.

The department was founded on October 10, 1949 and has been the cornerstone of the community ever since. Stationed at 128 Ash Alley, the Stone Creek VFD has seen plenty of action over the past 60 years.

The Stone Creek VFD began with their first meeting held on Oct. 10, 1949, with Mayor Donald Wherley presiding. Mayor Wherley was elected the first president, while the other officers were: James Lawver, vice president; Elmer Stein, treasurer; Robert Leiser, secretary; and Frank Ellwood, Fire Chief.

On March 30, 1950, the first fire truck was purchased; along with hose and portable pump, for about $4,000.

On Nov. 12, 1952, Dr. H.F. Wherley donated land for a fire station and the department moved into its new quarters on Dec. 9, 1953.

In 1957, a new Ford pumper was purchased, joining a Chevy panel truck and a 1950 GMC tank truck. In 1975, the department received a new mini-pumper for first class fire fighting set up. From that time, other purchases have included: 1981, van, $7,000 (out of service); 1983, new pumper, $65,000 (out of service); 1986, tanker, $45,000; 1991, used engine, $65,000 (out of service); 1994, Jefferson Twp. Donated a one-ton Dodge brush truck; 1995 Blazer; and in 1998, new engine, $179,000. Most recent truck purchases were a new brush truck in 2005, light tower in 2004, and a new engine-rescue in 2003. In 2002, the Tuscarawas Community Foundation funded the edition to the firehouse, which was built at a cost of $29,000. A future purchase will be this upcoming November, a tanker costing $200,000.

Currently 18 active members continue to serve as volunteers today. Active firemen include: Fire Chief Dale Swaldo, Assistant Chief Jim Boltz, Assistand Chief Steve Stein, Zach Swaldo, Andy Stein, Brian Pfeiffer, Mike Harper, Rick Edwards, Chet Randolph, Tom Cunningham, Seth Lute, Jeff Cronebaugh, Scott Swaldo, Aaron Trachsel, Anton Manini, Larry Hoagland, Tyler Smith, and Darren Prouty.

Fire Chief Dale Swaldo, who has been with the department since 1977, said there is much camaraderie among their Firemen, a unique group of individuals who depend and trust on each other. "We are getting old and it's hard to find new, young volunteer firefighters," said Fire Chief Swaldo, "Seth Lute is our youngest fire fighter, some of us are third generation firefighters like Andy Stein and Assistant Chief Jim Boltz, who has served the fire department for 19 years. We are hoping that our own children will serve when we are gone."

Fire Chief Swaldo describes their departments close working relationship with other Village departments at Port Washington, Gnadenhutten, Baltic, Bakersville, York, New Philadelphia, Dover, Sugarcreek and Newcomerstown. "We work very close with the Newcomerstown Fire Department and we are always happy to see them."

A festival is planned to celebrate and raise the overall awareness within the community about their fire department on Saturday, August 22nd car show, music, food, kiddie tractor pull, and festival games. Members of the Stone Creek VFD are hoping that area residents will attend this event. Questions about the festival, contact Jeff at 330-243-6269.