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Stowers, a hero in our hometown

There was a time when you could ask someone to name one of their heroes, and they were often hard-pressed to come up with one.

But after Sept. 11, the nation found that there were many heroes lurking in our midst – unrecognized, but quietly busy doing their heroic work.

Thanks to the people at our local Unicel branch, one of Greenville’s unrecognized heroes was given the kudos he deserved last week.

In a ceremony at the Unicel store in Greenville’s Gateway Plaza on August 29, store manager Lee Simms presented Greenville volunteer fireman Joe Stowers with the 2003 Hometown Hero Award.

Stowers, 68, is a 25-year veteran with the city’s volunteer firefighters, and was recently promoted from lieutenant to captain by fire department chief Mike Phillips. He is well-known among the fire fighting ranks as a dependable volunteer.

&uot;I think it’s absolutely great that Stowers is getting this award,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;The firefighters voted on who they thought deserved it, and he was the one. He has been with us for many years, and he’s always there when you need him no matter what’s going on – fundraising, projects or fires. He is an inspiration to everyone here, and we are proud he’s gotten this award.&uot;

When he’s not helping the fire department, Stowers works with Overland Solutions as an insurance inspector, he says he really enjoys his volunteer work.

&uot;I started with the Greenville Fire Department in late 1978 or early 1979,&uot; Stowers said. &uot;I’ve been a volunteer fireman ever since. I was first promoted to lieutenant in charge of Squad 7. Now I am captain in charge of all the volunteers. I want to do anything I can do to help the fire department.&uot;

Stowers said he has stayed on as a volunteer firefighter because he loves it.

&uot;I just enjoy it,&uot; he said. &uot;I love the people.&uot;

He also shares his work with his grandson, Tanner, who has helped him with the department’s Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraisers the past few years.

Sims said this is Unicel’s second year handing out the award.

&uot;We wanted to honor Stowers for his commitment to his community,&uot; Simms said. &uot;This is our way of getting involved with the community. Along with the award to Stowers, our company has donated $250 to the fire department.&uot;