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R’dam Junction Fire Chief to join Tonko at State of the Union

Congressman Paul Tonko, left, is joined by Rotterdam Junction Fire Chief Shawn Taylor, right.

Congressman Paul Tonko, left, is joined by Rotterdam Junction Fire Chief Shawn Taylor, right.

— The president’s State of the Union speech is considered a major moment in the year’s political happenings, but Rotterdam Junction’s Shawn Taylor hopes his visit to this history-steeped event was more than just ceremony.

Tonko announced today, Jan. 23, his guest for tomorrow’s State of the Union address will be Rotterdam Junction Fire Chief Shawn Taylor. Tonko commended Taylor for overseeing flood relief efforts in the hamlet located next to the Mohawk River, which was one of the hardest hit areas. Taylor has served as chief of the fire department for the last 11 years.

“I am pleased that Chief Taylor has accepted the offer to join me as my guest for tomorrow’s State of the Union address,” Tonko said in a prepared statement. “Chief Taylor not only played a pivotal role in responding to the needs of the citizens of Rotterdam Junction, but is also an exemplary role model in our community. His firsthand knowledge will help continue to guide our response.”

Taylor said he was surprised to receive a phone call around two weeks ago inviting him to the address.

“It was a tremendous honor, it was totally unexpected,” Taylor said. “I was pretty shocked … usually it is for war heroes or somebody who lost an arm or a leg.”

While Taylor does still have all his limbs, he led flood efforts as floodwaters rose and as Rotterdam Junction struggled to remain afloat.

“When I was doing it, it was kind of just happening,” he said. “I was just doing my job.”

He commended his staff for their efforts, which he said where executed without losing any lives.

His visit to Washington, D.C., won’t be a vacation, though, because he plans to anybody he can about the situation Rotterdam Junction and other communities are continuing to face. Also, he wants start a dialogue on better planning for future floods.

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