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Howard County Government honors 2019 “Employee of the Year”

October 3, 2019

Media Contact:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Government’s 2019 Employee Awards Program honorees were named on October 3rd during a ceremony at the Howard County Fairgrounds. Employees nominated the best of their co-workers and a selection committee choose the final awardees.

Vicki Rand, Office Manager of the Howard County State’s Attorney Office (SAO) was selected for the highest distinction of “2019 Employee of the Year.” She was proudly called the “fixer” and the “definition of a multi-tasker.” From grants, to payroll, to the office budget, to purchasing, to hiring and more, she stands out for her ability to address the administrative needs of 35 attorneys and 35 support staff. “We’re out of this. Why doesn’t this work? I need help finding such and such.” was reported as part of her normal day and she provides an answer or a solution every time. New leadership last year found her extremely valuable to a smooth transition and to the regular “sanity” of the staff. In addition, she offers her spare time to chair the county’s Wellness Works Committee. By helping all employees be healthy and fit, she helped earn a silver award as one of Maryland’s Healthiest businesses.

“I congratulate Vicki for her remarkable work with our State’s Attorney’s Office and our Wellness Works Committee. She is one example of the many outstanding County employees who devote themselves to public service every day,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “I am so grateful for the talent and commitment of our staff in Howard County. It makes me proud to hear from our residents and business leaders who have high praise for the professionalism of our team. All of them deserve recognition for making Howard County the very best place to live, work, and play.”

“It comes as no surprise to everyone in our office that Vicki was chosen as Employee of the Year for Howard County,” said Howard County State’s Attorney Rich H. Gibson, Jr. “Her dedication to the job is unparalleled, her work ethic is unmatched, her critical thinking skills are beyond compare and her passion for helping others succeed in life is a rare sight to behold. She is a consummate professional who performs exemplary work and is indeed worthy of this prestigious award and recognition.”

Other employee awards and recipients included:

Contingent of the Year -
The County added a new category for contingents last year to recognize the meaningful contributions of hundreds of part-time and seasonal employees. The second annual contingent award went to Derek Jackson in the Department of Recreation & Parks (DRP). He is a coach and referee who has a following of customers among some of the county’s camps. Coaches, counselors and referees seek him out for his professionalism and devotion to sportsmanship and fairness. During the last 10 years, he has been a camp director, flag football site manager, head referee, basketball coach and mentor. Parents know that their children will be cared for and given every opportunity to succeed under his direction.

Great Idea Award
1st Place: The top innovative idea was a fire department tool created by Danielle Goodwin in the Department of Fire and Rescue Services (DFRS) that helps consistently and reliably assess the value of fire damage. Using an interactive app and integrating dependable property values from tax assessment records makes the process of documenting fire losses much easier for commanders in the field and produces better data to measure performance. Goodwin put more than a year into creating this system and the training to go with it.

2nd Place: When a firefighter is caught in an “immediately dangerous to life and health” situation, time is of the essence and the right tools can mean life or death. Firefighter Gary Candela with the DFRS created a “Downed Firefighter Drag Belt” to help move an injured firefighter to safety. After several prototypes and testing, this life-saving tool is ready to be manufactured and distributed to first responders.

Unsung Hero Award
1st Place: Erica Carpio is a Victim / Witness Advocate for the SAO who was called, “the most helpful, supportive, conscientious and enthusiastic member of our team.” Given that she coordinates assistance for victims of crime who may be distraught or even angry, she was credited with “an uncanny ability to relate to people from all walks of life with remarkable compassion, empathy and kindness.” She guides them through the justice system and to other resources that will help their recovery and healing.

2nd Place: Firefighter Debra Jenkins with the DFRS was a source of strength and a resource to the family of Lt. Nathan Flynn, a firefighter who passed in the line of duty last year. She was part of the initial notification team and has not left the family’s side since. Whether his wife and children needed information, resources, a champion or just someone to lean on, she has been part of the family’s recovery. Lt. Flynn’s wife, Celeste said, she “has become an invaluable ally in ensuring Nate’s memory and legacy live on. She is part of my family now, and I do not know what I would have done without her.”

Green Initiative Award
1st Place:  The Forestry Section of the DRP spent the extra effort to restore and reuse thousands of trees shelters and pounds of rebar instead of disposing of it. Employees Pete Buppert and Anna Schrad spent hours saving these materials to be used again and finding a way to store them. The money saved allowed for hundreds of extra trees to be added to the county’s planting efforts.

2nd Place: Recreation & Parks employees John Marshall and Krista Billingsley developed two innovative programs to reduce waste in our landfills. The first allows public donors to sponsor the replacement of water fountains with updated bottle filling stations and pet bowls in order to promote reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic. To date, a dozen stations are in progress. The second program recycles thousands of used tennis balls from bins at local parks. During processing, the felt is removed and they are ground into other crumb rubber products

Mentoring Award
Priscilla Kung, the Purchasing Card Program Administrator from the Office of Purchasing, embodies the motto that “A good mentor motivates others by setting a good example.” She is known for pitching in when the workload requires it and spending crucial time training co-workers so that they learn new roles and responsibilities for the future. She stands out as a guiding force with staff, vendors and co-workers in other departments across the county.

Leadership Award
Named a top “leader” for 2019, the Chief of the Department of Planning and Zoning’s Resource Conservation Division Beth Burgess was described as a morale boost for her staff and a dependable resource in her field. Burgess is a key figure in the historic preservation of Ellicott City and other county sites. She. She oversees the agricultural land preservation efforts and environmental planning for the County, as well as devotes personal time to identifying and preserving local cemeteries.

Customer Service Awards

  • Victor Kreis, Department of Recreation & Parks (1st Place – Internal)
  • Vanessa Brown, Department of County Administration – Central Fleet (2nd Place – Internal)
  • Joan Johnson, Department of Community Resources and Services (DCRS), Office of Children and Families (1st Place – Public)
  • Amber Eash, DCRS, Office of Children and Families (2nd Place – Public)

Customer Service Team Awards

  • Howard County Police Department’s Mental Health Section – Sgt. Mark Orlosky, PFC James Abrashoff, PFC Meghann Holloway and Genevieve LaPorte, a licensed clinical professional counselor (Internal)
  • Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office Victim Assistance Unit: Erica Carpio, Victoria Coleman, Chelsea Cross, Rebecca Hart, Rosemary Miller, Debbie Snoots and Amanda Yglesias (Public)

In addition, six county employees were recognized for 45 years of service with Howard County Government, including Deputy Sheriff Mark Colbert, Lieutenant Deputy Sheriff Charles Gable, and Department of Public Works employees Robert Duvall, Francis French, Mark Kreis and James “Mickey” Estep.