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Operation Lifesaver honors Hale, Pepper for rail-safety efforts

Operation Lifesaver Inc. on Friday presented national safety awards highlighting individual achievements in preventing deaths and injuries around tracks and trains to Ron Hale of North Little, Ark., and Allen Pepper of Starkville, Miss.

Hale received the F. Tom Roberts Memorial Volunteer Award for his prodigious rail safety education efforts; Pepper received the OL Champion Award for being a champion of rail safety education in the law enforcement and first responder communities over his career, Operation Lifesaver officials said in a press release. The awards were presented during the Operation Lifesaver Leadership Conference held in Albuquerque, N.M.

A retired Union Pacific Railroad employee, Hale has been an Operation Lifesaver volunteer for more than 19 years. In 2013 alone, he conducted 547 presentations, traveling almost 14,000 miles, and reached an audience of 23,150 people in Arkansas.
Recently retired from Kansas City Southern and from a position on Operation Lifesaver's board, Pepper has held a range of safety roles during his career, including locomotive engineer, railroad special agent, Mississippi highway patrol officer and railroad public safety official. He has been a champion of rail safety education for the law enforcement and first responder communities, and has been instrumental in shaping Operation Lifesaver’s Grade Crossing and Collision Investigation and Rail Safety for Emergency Responder programs, according to a press release.

"We are proud to present these prestigious awards to Ron Hale and Allen Pepper, honoring them for their dedication to saving lives on behalf of Operation Lifesaver," said Operation Lifesaver President and Chief Executive Officer Joyce Rose. "These individuals truly exemplify the passion and creativity of our volunteers and partners."

Eight additional nominees for the F. Tom Roberts award also were recognized at the awards dinner: Earl Roider of Stockton, Calif.; Alex Goff of Newington, Conn.; George Bollinger of Jacksonville, Fla.; Darlene Osterhaus of Topeka, Kan.; Thomas Schmidt of New Orleans; Alan Stouder of Pioneer, Ohio; Eddie Kroutter of Broken Arrow, Okla.; and Randy Mulkey of Cheyenne, Wyo.

Started in 1994 in memory of a man who dedicated the majority of his life to reducing or eliminating death and injuries along railroad tracks, the F. Tom Roberts award honors an individual who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to safety in the number of volunteer hours committed to Operation Lifesaver annually, the nature of volunteer activities performed, and other personal contributions to the Operation Lifesaver program.

Established in 2010 to recognize people inside or outside of the Operation Lifesaver program who advance OL’s community safety goals, the OL Champion Award honors an individual who has contributed significantly to the mission of Operation Lifesaver in any of the three "E" components of rail safety: education, enforcement or engineering.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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