First responders, community organizations take part in touch-a-truck event

Horn blasts and police sirens livened the air at the Washington High School baseball field last Thursday afternoon as more than 100 children flocked to about a dozen emergency and public service vehicles that had gathered on the grass.

The touch-a-truck event, in which the children got to climb through the different trucks, speak with emergency personnel and get to see first hand how the equipment operated, was organized by CareerSource Gulf Coast as part of their annual summer leadership camp.

“We’ve been planning for about a month,” said Lianna Sagins,a special project coordinator at CareerSource. “Our community partners are really, really good, and everybody really stepped up to the plate.”

Sagins said this was the first time a touch-a-truck event had been held for the camp, though she was certain it wouldn’t be the last.

“This is the first year that I’ve planned a touch-a-truck event,” Sagins said. “We’ve done something public safety related every year for camp, but we typically just work with the Gulf County Sheriff’s Department.”

“We wanted to do something a little bit bigger this year.”

Participating in the event were representatives from the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Highland View Volunteer Fire Department, the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office, the Port St. Joe Police Department, BCC Waste Solutions and Gulf County Emergency Medical Services. Tropical Paradise gave out shaved ice from their food truck.

Even as it began to drizzle, the campers enthusiastically climbed through ambulances, pet Elite the K9, and danced under a shower from a fire hose.

“I would like to thank all the public partners that took the time to volunteer and come out here to talk to the kids,” said Sagins, who expressed that the event had been a huge success, even with the rainy weather.

The camp, which is offered free of cost annually by CareerSource, runs from June to August every year. For more information, visit

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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