Votes needed: Columbia Twp. competing in contest

Columbia Gas to award $5,000 to top vote-earner

By Sarah Hawley -

COLUMBIA TWP. — The Columbia Township Volunteer Fire Department is one of five departments in Ohio competing for a $5,000 prize from Columbia Gas as part of the “Stop. Leave. Call. Firefighter Video Contest”.

The contest helps to bring awareness to natural gas safety, explained Dave Rau of Columbia Gas.

The Columbia Township Volunteer Fire Department was one of five to submit a video for the contest, with the video helping to convey the “Stop. Leave. Call” message.

The Columbia Twp. video is titled “Spreading Awareness on Natural Gas Safety Protocols for All Families”.

The video stars Chief Rexie Cheadle’s daughters Rachel and Megan and was produced by Abby Swintek.

Voting is taking place on the contest website and ends this Friday. Currently, the Columbia Twp. video is trailing and fire department volunteers are asking for community support in the final days of the contest.

The five departments are competing for statewide votes in an effort to win the $5,000 cash prize.

Cheri McCollum of Columbia Township Fire Department explained that the prize money would mean a lot to the department’s finances as it runs on approximately $18,000 in levy funds per year. An additional $5,000 would be able to help with upgrades at the department.

This is the second year the department has entered the contest, placing third last year, said McCollum.

While they are competing against departments from much larger areas, McCollum said that Columbia Twp. has the support of many locals and that is important not only for this contest, but for the department as a whole as it serves the local community.

McCollum said the department is always looking for grants, contest and other ways to raise money without burdening the township’s residents. With no cost to enter or produce the video, McCollum said the contest is one such opportunity.

The Columbia Twp. Volunteer Fire Department serves the 36 square miles of Columbia Township, while also offering support to fire departments in Scipio Twp., Salem Twp. and Albany. In addition, the department has a volunteer emergency squad that responds to calls all over the county as requested by EMS.

Rau said the message of the contest is to encourage people to have a plan when the smell the “rotten-egg odor of natural gas”.

The three steps are, “Stop what you’re doing; Leave the area immediately; and Call 911 and Columbia Gas from a safe location.”

He added that it is important to have an emergency plan in place for where to meet and who to contact in the case of an emergency.

While one winner will be selected for the cash prize, Rau said everyone wins as they are helping to spread the natural gas safety message.

“I am very glad Columbia Township and the other departments are participating in getting this important message out,” said Rau.

To vote for the Columbia Twp. video go to

Other departments competing are Lancaster Fire Department, Pleasant City Volunteer Fire Department, Gibsonburg Volunteer Fire Department, and Madison Township Fire Department.

Voting in the contest ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22. You can vote once per day.
Columbia Gas to award $5,000 to top vote-earner

By Sarah Hawley

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.