Chris Berendt Staff Writer
January 9, 2014
James Roberts is the City of Clinton’s first-ever Employee of the Year, nominated by his peers as deserving of the inaugural recognition for his dedication to his job and the care he shows to the public and his fellow employees.
“It feels good. I’m glad to be the first,” said Roberts, a street maintenance technician who has been with the City of Clinton for the last two years. “To be the very first one, I can’t believe it.”
The Clinton police and fire departments annually recognize one of their own as part of a similar process — the firefighter and police officer of 2013 will be honored at a future date — but this year’s employee award took into account every other department.
“This is new for us, something that was approved last spring,” said City manager Shawn Purvis. “We have some great employees and we want to make sure they’re recognized and we thank (the City Council) for allowing us to go through this process.”
Purvis detailed the process, saying there are forms that team members can fill out to nominate their peers, answering several questions as to what makes that nominee deserving of the award.
“They can nominate whoever they want as many times as they want,” the city manager noted. “The Employee Relations Committee narrows that to five finalists, then it goes to a Citizen Committee. To be as fair as possible, their names aren’t on it. It is completely based on their merit and what comments have been received from their peers.”
This year, Patty Cherry, Susie Bauman and Quincy Grice made up the Citizen Committee. Purvis thanked them for their work and said they were swift and decisive.
“They actually moved extremely quickly in choosing this individual,” noted Purvis.
The city manager introduced each of the five finalists. In addition to Roberts, a street maintenance technician, Purvis said the other four finalists were: Lisa Osthues, environmental programs manager; Betty Holland, administrative specialist; Stacey Ray, senior administrative specialist for Public Works; and Lionel Raynor, street maintenance worker.
“Any one of these folks could be a fantastic recipient of this achievement,” Purvis said. “I want to congratulate all of them for that.”
As city clerk Elaine Hunt presented each of the five finalists with certificates of recognition, Purvis read just some of the comments bestowed to the award recipient before revealing their name.
“This person actually meets with residents not only while they work, but outside of work,” the city manager said. “If residents have questions, they’ll go to them after hours and get those (concerns) taken care of. This person volunteers to help other departments and other divisions all the time, including times they have to come in really early … and always does all of this with a smile, which is very contagious for everyone.”
“One thing that kind of stood out for everybody was this person calls and checks on employees when they call in sick, or goes around to their house to make sure they’re OK,” Purvis noted. “So with that, I would like to introduce Mr. James Roberts as our 2013 City of Clinton Employee of the Year.”
Roberts was presented with a plaque by Mayor Lew Starling.
“Thank you for all you do,” the mayor said.
“Thank you to James and thank you to all our finalists,” Purvis said. “We have a great team who all do exceptional work.”
Starling agreed, pointing to this week’s cold weather as a prime example of the hard work and dedication it takes by many to make local government operations go.
“I thought first thing (Tuesday morning), can you imagine how tough it was at 7 a.m. to get some of those trucks to crank? And to actually work on them all day long. I went over there at 6:45 a.m. (Tuesday) and I believe everybody was there and the trucks were all pulling out,” the mayor said. “Our water plant is manned 24/7, our fire department is manned 24/7, our police department is manned 24/7, so that is a lot.”
He credited employees such as the five finalists with being part of a strong backbone in the city and again congratulated them.
“That is a great tribute on behalf of the city employees to you, and on behalf of all the citizens,” said Starling. “Thank you very much.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.