SYLVAN BEACH -- U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 26 based in Sylvan Beach held its Change of Watch banquet in January, swearing in staff officers for 2012 and honoring 2011's top performers.
Division 2 Vice Commander John Steinbarge of Baldwinsville administered the oath of office to newly elected Flotilla Commander William Cummings of Utica and Flotilla Vice Commander Karen Beehm of Hubbardsville, along with a number of appointed staff officers.
Steinbarge, Cummings and Beehm then presented several awards.
Thomas Paatz of Dolgeville received both the Flotilla's Top Performer Award in Operations and the Division's Commodore James J. Phillips Excellence in Operations Award for, among other things, spending the most time patrolling Oneida Lake and assisting boaters in distress.
David Troutman of Rome received the Flotilla's Program Visitor Award for making the most visits -- over 360 visits -- to retail, boating and recreational outlets to promote boating safety. Troutman and Bonita Stilwell of Canastota shared the Flotilla's Top Vessel Examiner Award for performing the most free safety checks for boaters.
Robert Stronach of Marcy was named the Flotilla's Coast Guard Auxiliarist of the Year, reflecting participation in training, photographing and writing about missions, training and other activities, and designing Coast Guard Auxiliary publications.
Steinbarge made brief remarks about the need to continue addressing boating safety with the public, especially with paddle crafts becoming a popular recreational sport. "They're selling thousands of paddle crafts," he said, which presents an opportunity to provide safety education to reduce the number of mishaps and injuries.