St. Paul fire Capt. Rick Zech has won the Karl Neid Community Involvement Award, given each year to a St. Paul city employee with an impressive record of public service both on and off the job.
Zech learned the news Tuesday morning from Mayor Chris Coleman, City Council President Kathy Lantry and Joanne Tromiczak-Neid, the widow of the former City Council member for whom the award is named.
Zech was selected by a committee of former award winners, labor representatives and City Council staffers.
"Rick's unquestioned dedication to the city of St. Paul and his community is remarkable. … He has helped to build and strengthen our city," Coleman said.
Zech, a St. Paul firefighter for more than 29 years, has received many commendations for service above and beyond the call of duty.
His volunteer record outside the department is just as impressive: athletic director for a local parish, longtime coach and referee in several sports, Meals on Wheels participant, blood donor and member of the Fort Snelling Rifle Squad honoring fallen veterans. He also is applying for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.
The award was established in 1992 to honor Neid, an East Side community leader, after he died of a heart attack.