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Forest Grove honors civilians and police officer for service

Kudos - Teenager Kayla Varde and Officer Jason Moser received special recognition last week

Kayla Varde, the Forest Grove teen who ran into a burning home last month to alert a mother and her sleeping child, was honored last week by city officials.

Varde, 14, was heading home with her father from Forest Grove High School on March 6 when she noticed flames and smoke coming from the roof of a house on Birch Street in Forest Grove. She told her father, James Varde, to stop and then jumped out of the car and ran into the home as the roof of the house was beginning to collapse.

After the mother fled the house, Kayla and James then ran back in with the woman to rescue a three-year-old child sleeping inside.

Dave Nemeyer, a fire inspector with Forest Grove Fire and Rescue, presented Kayla and James with a Civilian Service Award on April 14. 'Though it is never recommended that anyone run into a burning home once, let alone twice,' Nemeyer said, 'it is because of the quick thinking and courageous actions of Kayla and James that a mother and child are safe today.'

The Forest Grove Police Department, meanwhile, recognized Officer Jason Moser as the department's employee of the year for piloting a graffiti removal program.

Moser, an eight-year-veteran at the department, organized groups of juvenile offenders to clean up graffiti throughout Forest Grove in an effort to deter the kids from reoffending and to clean up the city.

'On his own initiative, Officer Moser built on our relationship with the Washington County Juvenile Department and arranged for community service hours to be spent removing graffiti in our community,' said Interim Forest Grove Police Chief Jeff Williams, who noted that Moser also worked with local business owners to obtain supplies for the project.

During the April 14 award ceremony, Williams also recognized Moser's heavy workload. 'In 2007, he was also the primary investigator on 326 cases, which was no small feat,' Williams said.