Family not interested in rescue squad name change

The following letter to the Allegany County commissioners was released to the Times-News for publication:

On Aug. 24, 2020, we, the family of Ken and Betty May, were shown an email from Jim Pyles to the members of LaVale Volunteer Rescue Squad. In this email Mr. Pyles informed the membership that they had until Sept. 11 to fully integrate into the county and turn over the keys to the building and equipment or risk adverse public perception. In the email, Mr. Pyles stated that the squad would be dedicated and forever named the “Ken and Betty May Rescue Squad.”

It was quite a shock for us to see that the county was planning to rename the rescue squad utilizing our parents’ names. There was never any communication with the family concerning this renaming. Prior to his death, Ken had many conversations with others as he grieved what was happening to volunteerism in the county. He could not understand why people would not help out in their own communities and it broke his heart. He worried about a day when the paid personnel would push the volunteers out and he prayed that day would not come.

Ken was also the type of person who did not want recognition for his volunteerism. Anytime he received an award, we would catch “heck” because we knew about it and didn’t tell him. Repeatedly we heard him say, “If I knew, I wouldn’t have went. I don’t volunteer for awards.” Ken and Betty were certainly dedicated volunteers who spent many, many hours of their lives at the squad. However, there have also been many other dedicated volunteers. The amount of time they gave wasn’t as much as Ken and Betty, but they gave what they could given their work and family situations.

Unfortunately, we believe the offer to name the squad in Ken and Betty’s name has less to do with their service and more with creating a political ploy to try to get people to take the county’s side in this ugly issue.

We, the family of Ken and Betty May, do NOT want any part of this takeover. As stated above, we feel this name change is a slap in the face to everything Ken and Betty believed in and we will not give our permission for their names to be used in this way.

As a side note, we also feel that it was extremely disrespectful of all first responders to set Sept. 11 as the deadline for a decision. Sept. 11 is a day of remembrance for the ultimate sacrifice made by the men and women in Emergency Services in the terrorism attacks.

On a day when volunteerism and brotherhood should be at its highest, the county has chosen to turn it into a day of destroying what it took years to build. In closing, we respectfully insist that you leave the legacy of Ken and Betty May as the one they created, not the one you chose to create for your own gain.

Jean May Smith and William Smith

Walter K. May II and Diane Shimer May

Jayne May Miller

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