Paul Helmuth Honored at JMU Public Service Recognition Program

Paul Helmuth Harrisonburg
Jennifer A. Taylor, PhD, CFRE, Director of James Madison University’s Masters of Public Administration Program, Harrisonburg Assistant Emergency Coordinator and Harrisonburg Fire Department Administrative Officer Paul Helmuth, Director of the Public Works Department of Harrisonburg firefighter Tom Hartman, Harrisonburg Fire Department Chief Matthew Tobia. Photo by Michelle Krone, Department of Political Science, James Madison University.

Paul Helmuth, Harrisonburg Assistant Emergency Coordinator and Administrative Officer for the Harrisonburg Fire Department, was recognized this week as part of the 2022 Public Service Awards hosted by James Madison University’s Master of Public Administration program .

The effort, which culminated with an awards ceremony on Wednesday evening, recognizes individuals’ dedication to putting the needs of the community ahead of their own. Helmuth was honored for his commitment to the Harrisonburg community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the city’s emergency management expert, Helmuth oversaw Harrisonburg’s pandemic-related efforts at the local level and led the charge to bring in resources such as masks, testing events and vaccination clinics in The Friendly City over the past two years. He was also honored in October 2021 by Dr. Laura Kornegay, then Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District, for his service to the greater Shenandoah Valley area.

“Paul’s contribution to protecting our community from the pandemic has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said HFD Fire Chief Matthew Tobia. “Paul’s commitment to public service has not only saved lives – it will form the basis by which our community prepares for future catastrophic events. We particularly value the JMU MPA program for providing a platform to recognize exemplary public servants.

“Paul is an extremely dedicated public servant,” added Harrisonburg Public Works Director Tom Hartman.

Hartman nominated Helmuth for the award after seeing all that Helmuth has done to protect city staff during the pandemic and ensure city services could continue unchanged despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“I’m so excited that he was honored with the Excellence in Public Service Award,” Hartman said.

You can learn more about public service awards and other awards honored in our region at

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