New Castle Police Department Patrolman James B. Nicholson, who has been with NCPD for nearly 20 years, was presented the Life Saver Award by Chief Brad Catron at Monday's meeting of the New Castle City Council.
Nicholson was the second person to arrive on the scene of a deadly house fire at 2702 Sunnyside Ave. May 4. Nicholson saved Robert Perdew from the roof of the burning home. Unfortunately, Doris Perdew, 87, perished in the blaze.
Robert Perdew climbed onto the roof of the burning structure to escape the flames and would not come down in spite of the urging of emergency responders below. Fortunately, Nicholson had a telescoping ladder in the trunk of his patrol car, which he used to reach Perdew and then carry him down to safety.
"Some officers ask for an extra pair of shoes to work out in or extra shirt money, but J.B. wanted to buy an extension ladder," said Mayor Greg York. "The guy was not coming down. He was glued up there, petrified and scared to death, so J.B. had to go up and get him."
"This award is one of the highest awards that can be given," the mayor added.
Catron had nothing but praise for Nicholson.
"J.B.'s a great officer. He really thinks outside the box," the chief said. "He had the forethought to ask for a ladder. He's responded to several fires over the years and when he goes to them, he thinks about the what if. He thinks about the bigger picture. He's also an EMT and is a valuable member of our department."
In other news from Monday's meeting, council member Rex Peckinpaugh brought up the lack of sidewalks in some areas of town.
"I propose that we make an ordinance that says every new business in town needs to have a sidewalk put in front of it, kind of like the Dollar Tree did. They did not need to actually put that sidewalk in, they did it out of the kindness of their hearts," Peckinpaugh said.
The mayor pointed out that all Hoosier cities are being asked to make their sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"We are required to start spending $75,000 a year on these changes and the town has budgeted to start this year," York said. "Sidewalk improvements will continue in 2017 and beyond. It doesn't matter if it's from Walnut to Plum or 18th to 25th, someday it (making them handicap accessible) has to be done."
Also present to weigh in on the sidewalk issue was Ransel Howard, a resident of Foster's Landing on the city's north side. Howard is paralyzed from the chest down as a result of a 2009 automobile accident. He relies on a powerchair and the city's transit system for many of his travel needs.
"More sidewalk ramps, that's going to help me drastically," Howard said.
Howard said he hopes no one ever has to go through what he has, but if someone does, the things the city is trying to do with sidewalks will make their lives a little easier.
Also talked about at the meeting were budgets for 2017.
"We're just asking each department to hold their budget down a little bit and be good stewards," York said.