2023 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards

a flag with the words valor awards luncheon

The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce is set to honor the outstanding police officers, paramedics, EMTs and firefighters who help keep the local communities safe throughout the year on Friday, May 5th at Signatures at Bayside. Continuing the special tradition, the 2023 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards, presented by the Carl M. Freeman Companies, will recognize the service and dedication of 23 nominees. Representatives of local towns, public-safety organizations, government officials, and the Chamber membership will gather to honor these first responders for their acts of valor and commitment.

One of the following nominees will be awarded the top honor of the Overall Valor Award; which was renamed in 2007, in memory of the late developer and philanthropist, Joshua M. Freeman.

As chosen by their department leadership, the 2023 Valor Award Nominees by category are:


(Officers of the Year) Officer Gregory Contorno, Bethany Beach Police Department; Captain Nick Couch & Sergeant Oran White, DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police; Chief Kenneth McLaughlin, Ocean View Police Department; Corporal John Bunting, Selbyville Police Department; Officer Jahn Farrell, South Bethany Police Department.

(Firefighters of the Year) Captain Ricky Parrett & Lieutenant Trevor Bowden, Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company; Assistant Chief Mike Melson, Millville Volunteer Fire Company; Firefighter & EMT Makenzy Marvel, Roxana Volunteer Fire Company; Deputy Chief William A. Parramore, Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company.

(EMTs & Paramedics of the Year) Paramedic Parker Sandrowski & Paramedic Matt Farlow, Sussex County EMS; EMT Jerry Carter & EMT Joell Dougherty, Millville Volunteer Fire Company; EMT Sandy Justice & EMT Chris Rigakos, Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company; EMT Clayton West, EMT William Graham, EMT John Janowski, EMT Casey Daisey, EMT Joe West, & EMT Billy Ireland; Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company.

Recent Overall Valor Award Winners include Maria Berdan of Sussex County EMS (2022); The Sussex County EMS Staff (2021); Larry Corrigan of the Frankford Police Department (2020); and Justin Hopkins of the Ocean View Police Department (2019).


“The business community loves the opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the local law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency medical services,” said Lauren Weaver, Executive Director of the Chamber. “It is always humbling to hear how many acts of bravery come from those who volunteer their time or have made it their career to show up in the face of danger.”

Congratulations to all! Support for this event is provided by the Carl M. Freeman Companies, Banks Wines & Spirits, Coastal Point, Delmarva Power, Mountaire Farms, Taylor Bank, Wilgus Associates, State Farm Agent – Billy Reese, Anne Powell – Coldwell Banker Realty, Beebe Healthcare, Bethany Beach Books & The Book Drop, Millville Boardwalk, and PNC Bank.