Outstanding first responders in the Pettis County area were recognized by the Noonday and Sunrise Optimist Clubs of Sedalia Thursday night at the Sedalia Country Club.

A total of seven Respect For Law awards were presented by Jason Myers of Noonday and Dennis Scholl of Sunrise.

Myers, who serves as secretary-treasurer for his club, as well as Thursday night's event chairman, said the clubs have kept the Respect For Law awards alive since the early-80s.

Although the award has historically been called Respect For Law, top employees at seven local first-responder agencies were honored for their admirable service in front of an audience of 76 people.

Those honored with an engraved plaque after a dinner were:

Det. Travis St. Cry, Sedalia Police Department

Deputy Nicholas A. Gooch, Pettis County Sheriff's Office

Trooper Aaron Craig, Missouri State Highway Patrol

Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld, Sedalia Fire Department

Volunteer Mark Jackson, Pettis County Fire Department

EMT Donnie Hayworth, Pettis County Ambulance District

Each recipient was introduced by their supervisor, except Ditzfeld.

Ditzfeld, who will be retiring from the SFD soon, was introduced by Assistant Chief Greg Harrell, who will be taking over for Ditzfeld when he steps down. Ditzfeld noted that he presented Harrell with the Optimists' first-ever Sedalia Firefighter of the Year award in 1987.

Chief Ditzfeld said he had two objectives when he assumed the position of fire chief for Sedalia on 1986. "One was to try to get the citizens of (Sedalia) best possible fire protection they could get. I think we've accomplished that. The other one was to try to get our employees' expectations met, (so) they could achieve whatever they wanted to," he said. And I think we've done that, too."

Special guest speaker for the evening was Chad M. John, supervisory senior resident agent for the FBI.

Agent John said the past couple of weeks have been pretty difficult for him, as he attended two funerals for officers killed in the line of duty.

One was Miller County Deputy Casey Shoemate, 26, and the other was Special Agent Melissa Morrow, 48, who served in the FBI's Kansas City office. "Both of them left this world way too soon," John said. "They were both heroes who served their communities to the best of their abilities."

Shoemate died while en route to a fire scene April 20 at Route Y and Rabbit Head Road, and Morrow died in late March after battling brain cancer linked to exposure to contaminants from the 911 terrorist attacks.