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Last week the Daytona Beach News-Journal recognized our community’s first responders during a virtual ceremony. Out of the 84 nominations received, four were for public safety professionals from Daytona Beach.
Winning the 2020 First Responder of the Year award was Daytona Beach Police Department’s school resource officer Elizabeth Daniel, who has worked at Palm Terrace Elementary School for the past two years. Officer Daniel has been with the department since 2004 and previously worked as a detective before becoming a school resource officer.
Other nominees from Daytona Beach were Motors Officer Steve Pignataro, Jr., and two lieutenants from the Daytona Beach Fire Department, Lt. Jessica Matthews and Lt. Andrew Chaney.
Officer Pignataro was recognized with the 2020 Honor award. A third-generation law enforcement officer, Pignataro has been with the police department since 2014 and served in the narcotics division previously. He was assigned to the Motors Unit in 2019 and has received numerous awards including a Medal of Merit and a Unit Commendation award.
Lt. Jessica Matthews, who comes from a family of firefighters, was recognized for her efforts to organize the COVID-19 testing sites in the city that resulted in 2,800 people being tested in addition to her work as the training officer for the fire department.
Lt. Andrew Chaney, a 20-year veteran with the fire department, was recognized for his leadership in serving as an acting battalion chief while also teaching as a fire instructor at Daytona State College’s Fire Academy.
The News-Journal held the award’s program to recognize fire, law enforcement, emergency management, hospital personnel, rescue services and all essential businesses in Volusia and Flagler counties. The virtual ceremony can be viewed on the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s website at www.news-journalonline.com.