Raleigh, NC - Educators, wildlife officers, law enforcement officials and office workers were among the state employees from all across the state to be honored Tuesday afternoon with the Governor's Award for Excellence at a ceremony at the North Carolina Museum of History. Ten of the award recipients were credited with helping save the lives of others or preventing serious injuries.
"These award winners epitomize the best in public service," Governor McCrory said in a statement. "Going the extra mile is something they do every day whether they are in the office, in the field, and when required, when they're off duty. We're fortunate they have chosen to work for the people of North Carolina."
Special recognition was given to Dr. Julius Chambers
who was posthumously presented with the Spirit of North Carolina Award for his service as Chancellor of North Carolina State University and as founding director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. Dr. Chambers died in August after months of declining health. Dr. Chambers is only the second person to receive this special honor which is presented to state employees who have mentored others in the pursuit of excellence and whose achievements are of the highest caliber. Kay Yow, the late women's basketball coach at North Carolina State University, was the award's first recipient in 2007.
"Julius Chambers was a pioneer in education and civil rights and he advanced both fields while in direct service to the people of North Carolina," said Governor McCrory. "His life's work enriched North Carolina and our nation."
Thomas Stith, the governor's Chief of Staff, presented the awards along with agency leaders and university chancellors. Governor McCrory honored the award recipients and met with them at a luncheon he hosted at the Executive Mansion last week.
Awards were presented in seven categories: customer service; efficiency and innovation; human relations; outstanding state government service; public service; safety and heroism; and Spirit of North Carolina. The award recipients represent five state agencies and five institutions in the University of North Carolina system and were selected from nominations submitted to a peer committee overseen by the Office of State Human Resources.
The annual Governor's Awards for Excellence are supported by the State Employees Credit Union Foundation. A list of the award recipients is below.
( For photos and videos, please visit excellenceawards.nc.gov )
2013 Governor's Awards for Excellence Recipients
Spirit of North Carolina
North Carolina Central University
Outstanding State Government Service
Herbert Berg, Wilmington
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Herbert Berg is a professor of international studies, philosophy and religion at UNC-Wilmington. In addition to developing and teaching over a dozen courses in his home department, Dr. Berg has also developed and taught courses in the foreign languages, literature and graduate liberal studies departments. At least once a year, he also teaches one course, usually Arabic, as an unpaid overload in order to meet the requests of students. Dr. Berg is also known for his more than 70 presentations to civic groups in the Wilmington area. Dr. Berg is a published researcher and has won research grants from the American Academy of Religion and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the co-principal of a grant from the Defense Intelligence Agency to offer geostragetic intelligence seminars for the intelligence community.
Efficiency & Innovation
Steve Clark, Charlotte
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Steve Clark is the director of the Office of Classroom Support at UNC-Charlotte.
Clark has saved the university countless dollars in the construction and installation costs for almost 500 technology enhanced classrooms over the last seven years. He has also brought down the average time required to resolve classroom technology issues from 72 hours to fewer than 10 minutes. Clark created the technical standards for video conferencing, distance learning and lecture capture at the university as well as starting a pilot program to export his classroom support solutions to local community colleges.
Clark assembled a team of students to build and install 60 smart lecterns. The students learned valuable career skills because they also serviced and maintained the lecterns. By the end of 2009, almost every classroom was equipped with a smart lectern. Clark also developed a two way communication system which allows professors to contact technology services when a problem arises.
Matt Criscoe, Shallotte
Wildlife Resources Commission
Matt Criscoe is a master officer with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. He serves Brunswick and Columbus counties.
Officer Criscoe developed an alligator transport device that allows the officer to capture an alligator, load, transport and unload without ever having to lay hands on it. Criscoe adapted a bear and deer transport tube to fit the need for capturing alligators. Thus far, the device has been used on several occasions including one to capture and transport a large 12' alligator.
Heather Lewis, Goldsboro
Department of Health & Human Services
Heather Lewis is a recreational therapist at the O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center in Goldsboro. In 2012, the center announced that its 35-year old outdoor swimming pool would not reopen in the summer of 2013 due to its aged condition. The decision also coincided with the unexpected vacancies of two staff members in the aquatics program. Lewis was concerned about the impact these losses would have on the developmentally disabled adults who enjoy the program. She met with the director of professional services to search for other viable therapeutic options. The two met with other staff members to discuss the logistics of Lewis taking on the role of interim therapeutic care manager for the individuals left without aquatic therapy. Lewis did not hesitate to accept the challenge even though she would have to maintain her full caseload as well as take on the interim role.
Just a month after the last aquatics program vacancy occurred, Lewis had the program back up and running. She has since modified the swimming schedules to suit each individual's needs.
Surry County Community Corrections, Dobson
Department of Public Safety
On March 20, 2013, staff members at the Surry County Community Corrections arrived at work to discover that their co-worker Jim Matty had taken his life in his office in the Surry County Historic Courthouse.
Devastated by the news, the staff members rallied around Matty's widow, Deborah, who had been out of work for almost a year with hip and back injuries. They organized a memorial fund for her through the State Employees Credit Union to help her pay bills. At the request of the Matty family, his co-workers also picked up his sister, Teresa Matty, in Raleigh and took her to Surry County to attend his memorial service. Staff members also arranged a church for the service as well as the participation of the Department of Public Safety Honor Guard. The group also arranged to have Jim Matty's badge and identification framed and mounted in time for it to be presented to the family at the memorial service.
After the memorial service, Deborah Matty had hip replacement surgery. Her deceased husband's co-workers prepared meals for her on a weekly basis from the time of her husband's death until the end of May 2013. Staff members also assisted her in applying for death benefits.
After Matty's death, some of his co-workers began to work with the North Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program (NCLEAP). NCLEAP provides post critical incident services to law enforcement officers who have endured traumatic events during their careers. The Matty family and the Surry County Community Corrections staff designated the proceeds from the 1st Annual Jim Matty Memorial Golf Tournament to NCLEAP. More than $2000 was raised. Plans are underway for the second annual tournament in 2014.
Wanda West (posthumously)
Department of Environment & Natural Resources
Wanda West was an administrative assistant for the Secretary's Office at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Wanda was the first person to greet visitors who came to the Secretary's Office. She greeted everyone with a smile and with kindness, making everyone feel welcome. She made everyone in the office feel that she cared about them. She always did her work well and on time. She frequently stayed late to finish projects, particularly during legislative sessions. She handled any extra stress with grace. Several years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer, yet, Wanda continued to be the same, happy person she had always been. She recovered from her bout of cancer but earlier this year, Wanda found out that her cancer returned and this time it would be terminal. She never let on that she was sick -- she left instructions not to tell anyone that her cancer had returned. Many of her co-workers did not learn of her illness until it was announced that she had passed away at the age of 48. She will be missed by her many friends and co-workers. Her smile and warm personality will always be remembered fondly.
Kimrey Rhinehardt, Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina
Kimrey Rhinehardt is the vice president for federal relations, University of North Carolina, General Administration. In this capacity, she is the primary liaison between the University of North Carolina and the federal government. In 2009, Rhinehardt began an assessment of the services the UNC campuses offered to military service members. She helped to create the UNC Partnership for National Security, an initiative to support the service member, support national security and grow North Carolina's defense economy. To accomplish the partnership goals, Rhinehardt identified funds for and hired UNC-GA staff dedicated to military affairs, including personnel based at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. She also helped to establish the UNC Military Affairs Council to coordinate the university's efforts to increase capacity and consistency in service military affiliated constituencies.
Landric Reid, Wadesboro
Department of Public Safety
Trooper Landric Reed is stationed in Anson County (Wadesboro) and has been with the Highway Patrol for 21 years. In 2011, he founded the "Stride with Pride Shoe Drive," which he has used to distribute more than 216 pairs of new shoes to underprivileged children. He also helped to spearhead the "Back to School with Pride" event, where more than 1000 donated school supplies to be distributed to 500 students. Earlier this year, Trooper Reid worked with the Faith-Based Center of Hope, Playaz Elite Motorcycle Club, and the Wadesboro Police Department. The group organized a motorcycle ride to benefit a retired captain of the State Highway Patrol who needed a bone marrow transplant. During the winter months, Trooper Reid works with local charities to help feed the hungry.
Safety & Heroism
Fire Rescue Team, Marion
Ricky Bradley, Chris Painter & Jason Ray
Department of Transportation
Ricky Bradley, Chris Painter and Jason Ray are transportation workers with the Department of Transportation in the McDowell County Maintenance Unit. On the morning of Friday, June 21, 2013, the trio were performing asphalt patching work along SR 1198 (Lucky Street) in McDowell County in front of the home of Paul Robinson. The three finished their work around 9:47 a.m. They were preparing to leave when they noticed smoke coming from the house.
Ray immediately grabbed a water hose from the front yard and entered the home. Painter called 911 and kept the other family members from entering the house. Bradley asked the family's older son to turn off the propane gas to the home. Upon learning that there was a window in the bedroom where Mr. Robinson and his other son were asleep, Bradley broke out the window with a fire extinguisher that was on the maintenance unit's truck. Bradley and Ray then pulled the father and son from the house through the window.
Ronald Houston, Duplin County
Department of Public Safety
Ronald Houston is a correctional officer with the Duplin Correctional Center. While visiting Kure Beach on Memorial Day weekend, Officer Houston noticed three swimmers in distress. The rip currents were quite strong and the swimmers - one man and two women - were unable to get to shore. Two lifeguards with floatation devices responded to the crisis. They were able to rescue the two female swimmers.
Officer Houston did not have a floatation device. He rescued the male swimmer and brought him to shore.
Stephen Hunter, Reidsville
Department of Public Safety
Stephen Hunter is a probation/parole officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. He serves in District 17, which includes Rockingham County. On September 17, 2012, Officer Hunter was conducting routine home contacts when he was approached by a woman who told him that an elderly woman was being assaulted down the street. He responded to the residence where he saw two men standing over a woman lying in the driveway. He called 911. One of the men approached Officer Hunter in a confrontational manner shouting profanity at him. After warning the man three times to no avail, Officer Hunter sprayed two bursts of pepper spray to the facial area of the subject from a distance of about seven feet. The assailant retreated to the front porch of the house while Officer Hunter checked on the injured woman. He advised 911 that EMS was needed due to the extreme head and facial injuries that he observed. Shortly thereafter, the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department arrived and took control of the scene. The victim was the subject's 77-year-old mother and was taken to Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro. The assailant was arrested and faced numerous charges.
David Peterson, Spruce Pine
Department of Public Safety
David "Trey" Peterson is a road squad officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. He works at the Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institution in Spruce Pine.
On February 12, 2013, Officer Peterson and his lead Gunmen Officer Joseph came upon a wreck off the embankment of the road and found that a Yancey County Transportation van was on fire. There were people still inside the van. Officer Peterson took the onboard extinguisher from his road squad van and jumped the guardrail in an attempt to extinguish the fire. The flames became too strong with small explosions taking place due to onboard oxygen tanks in the vehicle. There was one confirmed casualty when one man's foot was trapped in the wreckage. He could not be saved. However, Officer Peterson's actions saved the lives of the driver and three young children, who were passengers in the van. They suffered only minor injuries.
Swift Water Rescue Team, Chatham County
Reggie Barker, Richard Rains & Benjamin Smith
Wildlife Resources Commission
Swift Water Rescue Team -- Sgt. Reggie Barker is an area leader for the NC Wildlife Commission in Chatham and Lee counties. Officers Richard Rains and Benjamin Smith are the local Wildlife officers for Chatham County. In May 2013, a father, a mother and their 18- year-old son, attempted a nighttime crossing of the rain-swollen Cape Fear River in Chatham County. Sgt. Barker suggested that he, Rains and Smith use their 18 foot aluminum boat to attempt a rescue. At this time, it was announced that the mother and father had made it ashore. However, their son was trapped midstream in the rapids. The trio launched around midnight. The young man was soon found. Officer Rains threw the young man a life jacket. Officer Smith grabbed the young man and pulled him into the boat. The young man suffered no serious injuries but did suffer from slight hypothermia. He was treated and released at the scene.
Eva Telles, Raleigh
North Carolina State University
Eva Telles is a university police officer at North Carolina State University. On the morning of January 25, 2013, Officer Telles witnessed a traffic accident in Bailey. A Ford pickup truck pulling a 22-foot farm trailer ran off the road on the right side at an estimated speed of 70 mph. The truck rolled over one complete rotation, came to rest on its wheels and caught fire in the engine compartment. Telles was off duty and outside her jurisdiction. However, she and John Slaughter, who was driving behind her, stopped to render aid. They discovered that they could not open the doors of the truck due to the damage sustained. Even though the front of the truck was fully engulfed by this time, Telles remained with the driver and removed him through a side window. The entire truck burst into flames shortly thereafter.
Telles then called for help. The Bailey Fire Department and the Highway Patrol responded. Telles provided an eyewitness account of the accident to Trooper T.S. Holloman. Telles exhibited courage, valor and selfless service which resulted in saving the life of Dana Clayton Brooks.