State government’s employees of the year honored

Pictured are the 2015 recipients of the Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service. (Submitted photo/State of Delaware)

Pictured are the 2015 recipients of the Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service. (Submitted photo/State of Delaware)

DOVER – Gov. Jack Markell recognized the efforts Tuesday of the 2015 recipients of the Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service.

The award winners and nominees were recognized for their “exemplary efforts in service” to the state of Delaware, according to a news release.

“These individuals exemplify what it means to be a public servant,” said Gov. Markell. “Their commitment and dedication to serving Delawareans is to be commended, and I thank them for the work they do every day for our state.”

The 2015 recipients and capsules provided by the state included:

• Grace Alexander – Ms. Alexander has been employed by Department of Health and Human Services at Terry Children’s Center since November 1979, providing well over 30 years of exceptional service to some of Delaware’s most difficult children. Over the past several years TCC has been undergoing a shift to a more trauma-informed approach in dealing with clients.

One of the measures used to assess progress has been how often employees are forced to use physical restraint. This past quarter TCC had its lowest number of the use of physical restraint of any three-month period in its history, and this was due in large part to Ms. Alexander’s embrace of a new approach to working with kids and her ability to assist her staff with the transition. In the month of February, TCC had no physical restraints. This is the first time this has happened at TCC for a calendar month.

• Dr. Richard Greene – Dr. Greene is a longtime employee of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and was the architect of a new inter-agency initiative that takes a watershed approach and applies it to toxic contaminants.

This new approach was applied recently to the Mirror Lake Remediation and Restoration Project in Dover. Contaminants in the sediments of Mirror Lake and the St. Jones River make fish unsuitable for human consumption and affect other aquatic life. Using approximately $150,000 worth of volunteer labor, construction was completed in November 2013. Plantings were completed in the spring of 2014. Instead of being an environmental liability, the lake’s stability and appearance will be enhanced.

The Mirror Lake project received two national awards from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Honor Awards for Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science were given in both the Small Project and University Research categories. The project is also being considered for the Chesapeake Bay Best Urban Management Practice Award in a category for projects outside of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

• Michael Haddadin — Mr. Haddadin’s 25-year career with the Delaware Department of Transportation began as a casual seasonal toll collector in August 1989. After six months, he became a full-time toll collector and then moved into supervision. In January 2014, he became operations manager at the Dover toll plaza.

With a “fresh set of eyes,” he immediately began to make improvements to the plaza. After consulting with employees, he initiated facility improvements that included: relocation of the parking spots for the disabled closer to an entrance; replacement of the old and soiled ceiling tiles; painting of interior areas; installation of new flooring; enhanced lighting; repairing of sidewalks and a stone walkway; upgrading landscaping around the building; relocation of the employee uniform room to ease access; and logistical and operating procedures.

Cameras in the toll booths were repositioned to provide better visibility to both the customer and to the collector’s money drawer. The cosmetic changes improved employee morale, and the repairs increased safety for both the employees and the customers.

• Randall “RL” Hughes — Department of Safety and Homeland Security Deputy Principal Assistant “RL” Hughes, was selected as acting director of the new Division of Forensic Science.

In six months, with Mr. Hughes at the helm, the new agency transformed its operations and embraced every challenge as an opportunity for success.

Mr. Hughes assembled a leadership team from the various units within the new division to restore the integrity of the operation and ensure it maintained the highest scientific standards.

Much of the work of this team focused on addressing the nearly 100 recommendations outlined in the Andrews International Report. In early 2014, Andrews International, a risk mitigation consulting company, conducted an assessment of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner organization.

As a result, 94 recommendations were documented as areas requiring improvement.

In January, Andrews International was asked to conduct a follow-up assessment of the new division. All but eight recommendations have been completed, significantly improved or are no longer applicable. The eight remaining recommendations are currently under review but require longer implementation time lines due to IT infrastructure, facility or budget issues.

• Kathrina Stroud — Ms. Stroud has served the state for 23 years, and in 2013, she became DelDOT’s civil rights administrator. Under her direction, the Civil Rights Section highlighted the Small Business Element of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program in 2014.

This Small Business Element program launched its first project last year. The project was designed to educate and offer more opportunities for small businesses under the Small Business Administration to more successfully bid on specific jobs.

Outreach of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and On-the-Job Training programs to grass-roots and community organizations greatly increased in 2014.

This outreach effort aimed to assist the organizations with finding training and jobs for underemployed and underutilized women and minorities. This outreach also incorporated educational training and experiences for elementary and high school students.

Due to this outreach and creation of educational workshops, the section saw a 31 percent increase in 2014 in the number of businesses who successfully completed the certification process (42 businesses in 2014 versus 32 businesses in 2013) along with expanded diversity of business owners who applied in 2014.

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