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Governor recognizes tireless volunteer

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, July 15, 2017
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Yellow Rose of Texas

YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS – Sue Carnley, a longtime volunteer for the Sand Flat Volunteer Fire Department, received the Yellow Rose of Texas award from Gov. Greg Abbott for her community service contributions. Messenger photo by Racey Burden

For more than a decade, the Carnleys dedicated most of their free time to the Sand Flat Volunteer Fire Department.

Sue Carnley, who lives on Lake Bridgeport, served on the board of directors and kept records for the department, which is made up entirely of volunteers, while her husband, Ken, served as chief. Sue also organized fundraisers, did the yard work at the station and delivered water to firefighters during extended fires on hot days. In addition, she’s been the coordinator and local recruiter for the annual Tarrant Regional Water District lake cleanup for 15 years.

Gov. Greg Abbott recognized Sue’s years of community service by awarding her the Yellow Rose of Texas this month. The Yellow Rose of Texas recognizes women who have made significant contributions to their communities through volunteering.

Fellow fire department volunteers presented the award to Sue at their annual station fundraiser July 1. Sue’s first thought was embarrassment at having to stand up in front of a crowd to receive the certificate from the governor.

“I feel honored, but I’m not one for the spotlight,” she said.

Her friends at the fire hall know that, so they nominated her in secret. Craig Scott wrote the nomination letter. In it, he described Sue’s passion for the Sand Flat Volunteer Fire Department and all her contributions – free bookkeeping, support for the firefighters – over the years.

“In her own way, Sue was our ladies’ auxiliary, establishing her own rehabilitation facility for the firefighters,” Scott wrote.

The award presentation was also a sort of retirement gift for Sue. She and her husband Ken both plan to cut back on their hours at the fire department and start traveling more. They have plans to see all 50 U.S. states.

As Sue received her Yellow Rose of Texas award, the department also gave a gold-plated fireman’s ax to Ken, celebrating his years as fire chief.

“From day one we have had good stewardship by Ken and Sue,” Chief Andy Sabo said.

While the department is sad to see them go, they hope others will volunteer to try and fill their shoes. Sue said she would encourage people to volunteer for their community because “it’s just the thing to do.”

“We have to help each other,” she said.

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