CANTON  Three local first responders were recognized for their commitment and professionalism during the annual Blue Mass celebrated Monday at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist at 627 McKinley Ave. NW.

The Canton Knights of Columbus Council 341 awarded its 2018 Bluecoat Awards to Stark County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff McCollister, Canton Police Officer Brandon Schmidt and Canton Firefighter/EMT Deborah Dawson.

McCollister, a 13-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, was lauded for his action in deescalating an incident involving a person in the throws of a mental-health crisis.

Schmidt, a field-training officer, was recognized for responding to 2,600 calls, writing 450 criminal reports, and making 40 felony arrests in cases that that included gun recovery, car thefts and drugs.

Dawson is a 28-year veteran who was lauded for her leadership in her capacity as a member of the Fire Department's hiring committee and as an acting captain. 

The Very Rev. John E.  Sheridan, rector, compared the first responders to St. Joseph, on whose feast day the Mass was celebrated. Sheridan said that as the spouse of the Virgin Mary, Joseph, too, was a protector and a hard worker who was faithful to his calling.