Scottsdale honors its employees for outstanding performance, commitment to community

78 employees, 1 volunteer saluted

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The City of Scottsdale celebrated actions and ideas presented by its employees, including improving a park, creating a butterfly exhibit and developing a system to provide medical service to Phoenix Open attendees at a December ceremony.

In all, 78 employees and one volunteer were honored Dec. 18 at Scottsdale’s annual Employee Awards Program at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The winners were among more than 420 employees nominated in several categories, according to a press release.

Here’s a summary of those honored and their contributions:

Herbert R. Drinkwater Award: Terry Erickson, parks and recreation manager, retired

Mayor Jim Lane selects the recipient. Herb Drinkwater combined an infectious smile and easy manner with foresight and a dedication to carrying out big ideas for the benefit of the community. The Drinkwater Award recognizes an employee who also makes a big impact in service to the community.

Ms. Erickson dedicated her life to the Scottsdale organization for more than four decades – 42.42 years to be exact! She started as a part-time recreation leader at Vista del Camino working with the local Pascua Yaqui community.

That work resulted in volunteering outside of work hours cleaning and monitoring many community areas --- including the Paiute Community Center and park, which she continues to monitor to this day. She has hired, mentored and helped promote numerous young adults throughout the city’s rec centers to expand their job opportunities in public safety, human services, libraries and public works. Along the way, Ms. Erickson encouraged and trained many to understand the value of customer service and the call to serve and volunteer within the community.

Bill Donaldson Award: Jody Pierce, parks and recreation manager

City Manager Jim Thompson selects the recipient. This award is named for the city manager who served from 1965-1971. In less than a decade, Mr. Donaldson was credited with transforming the culture of city government and fostering a spirit of innovation that still holds true today.

Mr. Pierce manages the parks maintenance teams, as well as more than 500 acres of medians and rights-of-way. His job involves scheduling maintenance at 42 parks and ensuring that 70 athletic fields are in good playing condition. Mr. Pierce also works with capital projects and street improvements to make sure disturbed areas are quickly and properly put back together. With Mr. Pierce at the helm, it’s no wonder Scottsdale looks so good!

Assistant City Manager Bill Murphy says when he needs someone reliable for an assignment, he just dials “P” for Pierce because he knows that Jody will answer the call and the job will be done right.

The People’s Choice Award: The Scottsdale Water Direct Potable Reuse Team

In drought-prone states like Arizona, water scarcity is a real issue, which makes it critical to develop more sustainable water sources, like recycled water. And that’s what Scottsdale Water has been doing for more than 20 years at the Advanced Water Treatment Plant --- recharging ultrapure water into the drinking water aquifer. While this water isn’t for drinking, it’s actually treated to a water quality standard that exceeds bottled water.

That changed earlier this year though, when Scottsdale Water received the state’s first permit allowing them to provide potable water for human consumption. As for public perception, breweries have already tapped the beer made with the recycled water and have reported great customers reviews and universal acceptance.

Thanks to You: Tim Worth, maintenance worker II

The Scottsdale City Council selects the recipient. The “Thanks to You” award recognizes employees for providing such excellent service that residents contacted the city to say thank you. Several years ago, this resident was inspired to start walking in Vista del Camino park before work to get into better shape. That’s where he came across our winner almost every time he walked --- always receiving a smile and wave. Over the next few months, the resident reported a few things in the park that needed to be fixed, like a burned-out light and a buckled sidewalk --- and they were fixed quickly.

According to this resident, “This employee is always cheerful, approachable and working hard. It is obvious that he takes great pride in his work and has a strong sense of ownership. His consistent service and dedication deserve to be recognized.”

Show Caring and Compassion for Others: Terrence Alt, library assistant

Scottsdale library front line employees work with people impacted by homelessness daily and wanted to help. One employee, Mr. Alt, went above and beyond by developing “Coffee and Conversation.” This program encourages people experiencing homelessness to grab a cup of coffee while learning about resources available to assist them. People have been able to get the help they need, and one participant was able to secure a job after learning about various opportunities.

Listen, Communicate, Take Action: Jody Pierce, parks and recreation manager

After months of discussion to find an appropriate way of addressing resident concerns over panhandling along city streets, a staff team developed a campaign featuring an updated website, a resource list and signs placed throughout the community encouraging folks to help social service agencies rather than hand money out the window. But the team had no way to set up the signs and regularly monitor them.

In stepped Mr. Pierce. He’s the kind of employee who says, “hand it over, I’ll take care of it.” And he did. Mr. Pierce and his team manage the placement --- and sometimes re-placement --- of signs. Residents have commended the city saying the signs are working to deter panhandling at popular intersections.

Be Accountable and Act with Integrity: Community Development Block Grant Audit Team

This team developed innovative solutions and implemented best practices to ensure funds are administered in compliance with Housing and Urban Development’s stringent requirements. Thanks to its efforts, a recent audit resulted in no findings, concerns or suggestions. The report determined that the Community Assistance Office has proper comprehensive program policies and procedures in place.

Team: Gabrielle Alexander, Chad Beougher, Justin Boyd, Diane Ethington, Jack Miller and Michele Payakovich

Collaborate as a Team: Rotary Park Enhancement and Butterfly Garden Project Team

This city team quickly worked with more than 100 volunteers from Republic West Services on an Operation Fix-It project to plant 70 trees, create a butterfly/hummingbird garden, and paint facilities and ramadas at Rotary Park. The project resulted in a lasting legacy for future generations to appreciate.

Team: Sita Barge, Rudolph Botello, Jeremy Hildebrandt, Michelle Holmes, Bob Mansfield, Brett Nohren, Mark Ortega, Felipe Perez, Jody Pierce, Taylor Reynolds, Gavin Skaggs, John Spinck, Ron Steffen, Lance Tudor and Adam Yaron

Focus on Quality Customer Service: Human Resources Leadership Team

Prior to 2015, the Human Resources Department leadership team had significant turnover, and it lacked the trust and confidence of staff. The team started mending broken relationships by individually meeting with and surveying employees to understand their needs and how HR could improve.

Many suggestions were implemented, including updating city policies and publishing written processes for transparency; establishing meaningful metrics and measures for accountability; networking with external stakeholders and business resources for innovation and best practices; and ingraining the ideal of superior customer service to improve service delivery. Team: Lauran Beebe, Donna Brown, Vernon Goode, Noel Wessel

Plan and Innovate for the Future: Waste Management Phoenix Open Digital Dispatch Team

The Waste Management Phoenix Open can see crowds up to 250,000 people in a single day --- that’s like packing the entire population of Scottsdale into one golf course on one day. The sheer numbers became an ever-increasing challenge to dispatch medical teams to emergencies occurring at the tournament. This team created a GIS-based digital map that provides real-time location information to more than 25 city paramedic teams staffing the event. This allows dispatchers to quickly select the closest appropriate team to better respond to emergency calls.

Team: David Getz, Mele Koneya, Chris Lechner, Andrew McDonald, Rob Rucker and Kerry Swick

Learn and Grow Continuously: Scottsdale Water Security, Safety and Training Team

Scottsdale Water’s extensive training, safety and certification program was fragmented, and not all priorities were being properly addressed. Scottsdale Water leadership worked with Human Resources to reclassify two existing positions to create security, safety and training coordinator positions. These two positions are responsible for helping protect Scottsdale Water employees, contractors, customers and infrastructure.

Jeff Fritsch and Kerry Leib have created a program with remarkable results, including: securing every facility throughout the system with electronic locks; dramatically reducing the frequency and severity of both injuries and vehicular accidents; addressing multiple potential safety hazards identified by employees; ensuring every certified employee has maintained his/her certifications and met the contract training hour requirements; and conducting an assessment of upgrades to the fire protection systems within the Water Campus.

Respect the Individual: Maurice Tatlow

Maurice Tatlow approaches work and service with 100 percent integrity --- to all, all the time. He conducts critical job duties overseeing the groundwater well systems. Mr. Tatlow recently was overseeing a project involving a private development with lots of players. Some of the people were extremely difficult to work with, outright unprofessional and rude.

How did Mr. Tatlow deal with them? The same as he deals with everyone --- with the utmost professional attitude and integrity. His respect of others leads to successful work teams, successful projects and satisfied citizens and customers.

William P. Schrader Volunteer Impact Award: Bob Fowler

Scottsdale Library longtime volunteer Bob Fowler has meticulously sifted through photographs at the Scottsdale Historical Society to identify the very best historic photographs to be added to the Scottsdale Public Library’s digital photo collection. He has contributed 144 volunteer hours to the library, and he has scanned and cataloged more than 1,500 photographs. The collection of photos Mr. Fowler has added to the Scottsdale Heritage Connection are the most prized pictures in the collection of more than 10,000 photographs.

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