Staff Writer

ENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE - - For 50 years, Martha Woodward, Art Vensel, and Larry Brunner have been passionate about their community.

Each has held a top position on council and within the Geneva-on-the-Lake Volunteer Fire Department and have expanded their interests in promoting and improving the village with other projects.

Woodward, Vensel, and Brunner were honored by village council this week for a combined 50 years of service to the community.

Vensel served with the fire department an held many positions during his tenure, including assistant fire chief for 25 years. He still volunteers as the treasurer of the fire department. Vensel also is a member of the village planning commission, serving 26 years on the board. He is the chairman of the Ashtabula County Democratic Party, the Geneva Kiwanis, and the Ashtabula County Board of Elections.

Brunner also has been with the fire department for 50 years. He has held the posts of fire chief and assistant fire chief. Brunner served as a village councilman and on the village board of public affairs. During his time with the fire department, Brunner oversaw the construction and completion of the Village Fire Station in 1970 and helped form the Ashtabula County Arson Task Force.

Fifty years has been good to Woodward, who has served with the fire department for 50 ears and as a member of council for 30 years. Woodward also helped form the Geneva-on-the-Lake "Blazettes" auxiliary and the Ashtabula County Women's Auxiliary.

Woodward shows no signs of slowing down. She is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Geneva-on-the-Lake and the Geneva-on-the-Lake Visitors Bureau Board of Directors.

"The three of us have 150 years of work here in the village, and we are still hanging in there," Woodward said.

After 50 years of hard work, Vensel said he leaves the heavy lifting to the younger firefighters.

"Oh, we don't do all the heavy work anymore, that is for the young guys," he said.

"We just supervise," Woodward joked.

The trio were instrumental in the construction of the fire station on South Warner Drive, and are amazed at the progress the station has seen in the last 50 years.

"We started our ambulance service with an old Dodge station wagon and then we used an old hearse. Nothing fancy like we have now," Brunner said.

Vensel remembers a time when the village didn't have enough water to put out big fires.

"That has all changed over the years. Now we have new equipment and we are always working to get more," he said.

All three honorees are excited about the new Safety Service Center. Bids for the construction of this new, all-inclusive municipal building will be opened this week.

"We are very proud of the work council has done on the new center. This fire station was built with the intention of adding on. Thirty-five years later, it is going to happen," Vensel said.

Vensel said the fire department is a well-supported, valued part of the community and he is proud to be honored for his service to the organization and community.

Woodward would like to remind the community that the fire department is always looking for new firefighters and other volunteers. For more information call (440)-466-8765.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 9/8/2006

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