LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero is a recognizable face around the community, especially in times of emergency.
Those who know him say he’s always “on-duty” and is the first one out the door when someone in the community needs help.
“He’s devoted his entire life to this town and to helping people. Just seeing his reaction and knowing how grateful he is even though he hates the spotlight made it all worth it,” said Leslie Daniels, the daughter of Hometown Hero Jeff Wildes.
Ready and willing to help, day or night — that’s how friends, family and co-workers describe Wildes’ work ethic and dedication to the community.
“I used to travel out of town and I wanted to stay home, so I got a job on the street department and then my grandfather was on the fire department years ago and I just had to join,” Wildes said.
Two careers spanning 30 years each, Wildes pulls double duty. He’s not only Lowellville’s road superintendent, but the assistant fire chief of Station 31.
“I just do what I do, that’s all,” he said.
“He’ll get a phone call and he’ll go running,” said June Lewis, Wildes’ sister.
“Especially for the past 30 years, we’ve watched him leave holidays, meals, anything just to go anytime he gets a call. For someone else to realize it and recognize that and give him the credit he deserves is amazing,” Daniels said.
“Jeff gets calls constantly, personal calls before they call 911, they’ll call him first,” said Lowellville Fire Chief Al Boggia.
Recently, Wildes was recognized by members of the Poland Township Police Department for his quick response to a head-on accident along Route 224, west of Lowellville Road. It was the morning of the season’s first major snowfall.
Officers said he thoroughly salted the roads, preventing more accidents from happening and allowing officials to quickly reopen the roadway.
Daniels posted the letter Wildes received from Poland police to social media, and the stories came flooding in.
“Just how he’s always the one that they go to no matter what. It doesn’t matter if there’s snow on the ground, if there’s a tree across the road or a house on fire or someone falls, he’s always the person that everyone calls,” Daniels said.
“I don’t think he could live without not helping people, honestly, I don’t think he could. It would bother him way too much,” Boggia said.
While he’s surrounded by so much love and support, one of his biggest fans may just be his 11-year-old grandson, Brody Daniels.
“Because of all the stuff he does for our community and how great he is and how good of a grandpa he is,” Brody said.
“It makes me feel very proud to be his daughter,” Leslie said.