KEESEVILLE A week into a national contest to select the fire department with the best above and beyond spirit, the Keeseville Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) is within reach of the prize. Tom Dragoon of Chazy wrote an essay to nominate the KVFD for their extraordinary efforts to reclaim the body of his son, Mark, after an accident on the AuSable last summer. The essay was selected by Firedog.com as a finalist. Voting to select the winner started on April 28. As of May 7, the KVFD was ranked second out of 10 departments, having collected 13,782 confirmed votes. The first-ranked department, which is from Ashland, Va., had 15,168. We need more people to participate because the current leader in the contest is from just south of Washington, DC., north of Richmond, Va., and west of Newport News, Va. They have 250 times the population base the North Country has to draw from it makes it a necessity that we get each and every vote we can to support KVFD, said Dragoon. For qualifying as a finalist, the KVFD will receive $20,000. If the department is selected as the winner, it will receive a $100,000 grand prize. In addition to the grand prize, for every vote received during the voting, Circuit City will throw in an additional dollar into a shared prize pool up to $250,000, to be divided between the departments depending on vote totals. Dragoon said a grass-roots effort, via the internet, word of mouth, and press coverage has drummed up support for the KVFD. Many folks have come up with ingenious ways of getting the word out to the public that we rely on for votes to win, said Dragoon. Dragoon said the response has been overwhelming. His e-mail and phone at home are jammed with messages of support and efforts to get the vote out every day. What this says about the North Country is that we respect and support our volunteers from the North Country, we never forget where our roots are, and our loyalty to our home, said Dragoon. Dragoon, who won a $10,000 home techover for his winning essay, said hes working on making the home techover benefit the volunteers. I really could not profit in any way form this contest its all about honoring our volunteers, said Dragoon. Dragoon said he encouraged residents throughout the North Country to participate in the vote. Right now we need each and every vote we can extract out of the North Country, from our friends and family that have moved away, our seasonal friends from out of the area, from business associates and partners, and the person on the street to get behind this great effort to honor our heroes from the North Country, the volunteers that keep us safe every day, said Dragoon.