Decatur fire chief chosen as Citizen of the YearBy DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,
For more than four decades, Decatur Volunteer Fire Department Chief Raymond Overstreet has helped keep residents in Decatur and around Newton County safe.
It’s that long history of service that led the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce to name Overstreet as this year’s Citizen of the Year. Overstreet will be officially honored at the Chamber’s annual banquet on Saturday, Feb. 24 at ECCC.
A lifelong Newton County native, Overstreet grew up between Hickory and Decatur, the youngest of three children. Overstreet graduated from Hickory High School and moved to Decatur in the 1960s.
He joined the volunteer fire department shortly after because he said he liked “being able to help people.”
Overstreet said there have been many changes in the way firefighters do their jobs since he started when the department used homemade fire trucks.
The fire department is still in the same spot, behind the county courthouse on Main Street, but it has been remodeled, and firefighters have better technology at their disposal.
“We have better equipment than we did when I first started,” Overstreet. “The fires burn hotter and quicker than they used to because of all the plastics and different materials that are used in construction than it was years ago. But we get there quicker now because we have better trucks than we used to have.”
Overstreet became the fire chief in 2012 and now oversees the department with more than two dozen members.
Overstreet said he was honored when he learned that he was named as the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year, but that he has just been doing his job for the past 40-plus years.
“It’s an honor and I was humbled by them electing me,” he said. “I don’t consider myself any better than anybody else. I just do what I do and don’t want any recognition for it.”
The chamber banquet will begin with the silent auction at 5:30 p.m. This year’s speaker will be WLBT anchor Maggie Wade. Tickets cost $22 and are available at the Decatur Town Hall or from any chamber board member.