by Tim Linscott
Rick Ochsner is the 2014 Good Neighbor recipient.
Ochsner’s love of the community runs deep as he was raised in Grant and lived in the community his entire life.
“I always look to give back to the community,” Ochsner said. “The people here are so good, thoughtful, loving people.”
When he found out he was chosen as the 2014 Good Neighbor recipient, Ochsner said he was surprised.
“This has been very humbling,” Ochsner said. “I am just shocked and surprised. I am happy to get this honor.”
Rick and wife, Jackie, went through a trying time two years ago when Jackie faced brain surgery.
“The community supported us then and I am giving back. I enjoy doing it,” Ochsner said.
The couple will mark their 30th anniversary this year.
For the past 34 years Ochsner has been involved with the Grant Volunteer Fire Department.
“The fire department does a lot for the community,” Ochsner said. “I am glad to serve on the department and help the community. It seemed like a good organization at the time and still is, it is like my second home,” Ochsner said.
Ochsner is so dedicated to the fire department that during the interview with the Grant Tribune-Sentinel, a fire call came in, prompting Ochsner to immediately prepare for the call.
Ochsner has rarely missed a fire department meeting or call in his 34 years of service.
He has been on an average of 145 fire calls and ambulance runs per year, including many out-of-town patient transfers to Denver, Scottsbluff, North Platte and Lincoln.
The department has had about 220 calls per year.
Ochsner gives a lot of credit to his wife for her dedication to the department as well.
“I have been gone a lot of nights on calls. Missed supper quite a few times and she’s been great about it,” Ochsner said of Jackie.
In his 34 years of being on the fire department in Grant, Ochsner has never missed a Fourth of July fireworks display.
Not only does Ochsner regularly attend fire school but helps with Fire Prevention Week at Perkins County Public Schools and is always willing to go on a mutual aid call to other communities.
Ochsner is a mainstay at the fire house, washing and repairing equipment.
He has also volunteered at the high school for cross country and track and has driven the handi-bus in the past.
For many years, Ochsner worked in maintenance at Perkins County Hospital and is presently caretaker of the Perkins County Courthouse.