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Carroll County employees, officials receive top state honors

THREE of the seven annual award winners from Carroll County at the NH Association of Counties (NHAOC) conference on Oct. 24 (l-r): Nursing Home Administration Sandra McKenzie, Nursing Home Administrator of the Year; Dave Sorensen, County Administrator of the Year; and Lisa Howard, County Nursing Home Employee of the Year. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
November 03, 2011
OSSIPEE— Carroll County employees brought back a pile of awards after seven were recognized as the best county employees in the state at the NH Association of Counties (NHAOC) conference on Oct. 24.

This year was Carroll County's turn to host the two-day annual conference and trade show event, held at North Conway Grand Hotel. The conference is a chance for employees and elected officials from counties across the state to come together for networking and sharing ideas. There were several guest speakers who presented information about topics relevant to the operation of the multi-faceted county government including jails, nursing homes, and registry of deeds. Topics also included changes in state government and their impact on counties.

The people who had the most positive impact on the way their respective counties run were honored in several categories. Of the 18 awards given to employees and officials across the state, Carroll County earned seven.

Nursing home employees honored

Mountain View Community, Carroll County's nursing home, had two of its employees bring home state awards. Lisa Howard, in charge of accounts payable and purchasing for the home, was named County Nursing Home Employee of the Year. Howard has worked for Carroll County since 1998. In the nomination letter, County Human Resource Director Robin Reade said, "Lisa has been instrumental in providing cost containment measures working with department heads to trim costs in the old nursing home and as well as the new facility. In addition to her job, Lisa has worked tirelessly and effortlessly on providing visual and written commentary on the progress of the new facility via newsletter, through the Carroll County Website and on Facebook. She has done all of this while going to school at night and weekends to complete her bachelor's degree. In the three years I have been at the County, each and every interaction I have had with Lisa I have been greeted with a smile, a kind word, a willingness to help and a terrific sense of humor. Lisa is an exceptional employee and I can't think of anyone who deserves this award more."

Howard was also nominated for the award by her boss, nursing home administrator Sandra McKenzie, who wrote, in part, "Her attention to detail is remarkable. Over the past year she has dramatically trimmed the expense supply budget and worked side-by-side with the department heads and the administrator to contain costs as we worked on the building project. But, this only tells half the story. Lisa has a tremendous work ethic. When she is given a project she will not only complete it but exceed expectations."

McKenzie herself was named the top county nursing home administrator in the state. She was not only nominated by Carroll County officials for the award but also by the nursing home affiliate of NHAOC, a group of her colleagues from nine other counties. In the nomination letter from Carroll County, Reade wrote, "Sandi started with Carroll County in January 2009 as an interim administrator. She was soon hired as the full time administrator for Mountain View Nursing Home. Sandi has been in the healthcare field for almost 30 years and is known for her expertise in dealing with state and federal surveys. She understands what their needs are and knows how to produce those results.

Sandi is action and results oriented and that really manifested when the new nursing home project was underway. Sandi was involved in every aspect of building the new home coupled with running the existing nursing home. This was a task that not many people could undertake and do it successfully.

"As the nursing home project progressed, Sandi was there every step of the way spending many hours in meetings, working with contractors and interior design people. There were many sleepless nights and late night phone calls to be sure the project was on track. I believe and I know many people would agree with me that this project never would have been on schedule and go on-line without Sandi at the helm.

"When I hear the words respect, leader, support, and trust I think of Sandi. She is a true leader. She turned a group of employees that had no leadership into a cohesive team to accomplish building, inhabiting and running a wonderful new facility for the residents of Carroll County. If anyone deserves this award it is Sandi McKenzie."

Will DeWitte

The NH Farm Superintendent of the Year award belongs to Carroll County's Will DeWitte, who runs the county farm. His department is responsible for maintaining the grounds year-round, haying the fields, producing fruits and vegetables for the jail and nursing home, processing and selling campfire wood, among many other tasks. In DeWitte's nomination letter, Reade wrote, "In the two years Will has run the farm he has successfully increased fruit and produce production. Many of the fruits and vegetables are utilized in the nursing home and jail kitchens, and the excess is sold to local area businesses and donated to the local food pantry. Will has ventured into new areas of bringing in revenue to the farm by selling campfire wood to the local campgrounds. This has proven to be a very viable business for the farm. Will, working with local farmers and the (UNH) Cooperative Extension has brought back "Farm Day" to the county. This is an event that hosts a farmer's market, several farm events, such as wood cutting, sheep shearing and vendors and animals for the kids. There is food and rides for the little ones. Aug. 1 was the second year of this event and has proven to be very successful.

"After a thoughtful and thorough presentation to the delegation to add livestock to the farm, Will was turned down by the delegation for funding for this project. That did not stop him. Will was able, through private donations by the public, to purchase five piglets for the farm and is holding seminars and workshops for the general public on raising piglets.

"Will is extremely hard working, energetic and determined to make Carroll County Farm a success. Will's dedication beyond his experience is the future of county employees."

Ian Phillips

The County Corrections Employee of the Year is Carroll County House of Corrections Sgt. Ian Phillips. A nomination letter written by his co-worker Capt. Michael Fowler speaks to how many public safety employees go into the job wanting to make big, positive changes but often become disillusioned by the wrangle of politics and brick walls often tougher to break than jail walls. Phillips left work in Carroll County to work in another county for a while, picking up new knowledge and when he returned, seemingly re-energized, he's been on the track to making big, positive changes in Carroll County corrections.

Fowler wrote, "Law enforcement officers tend to enter the field with dreams and aspirations of helping people and changing a broken system. Unfortunately, a majority of these people hit a wall and give up on their career goals after not seeing results. Sgt. Phillips was once at this point. I remember sitting down and having a conversation with Sgt. Phillips about why he became a law enforcement officer and how he wanted to improve people's lives. Two things stood out to me during that conversation, one being Sgt. Phillips truly wanted to make a difference and two he was on the verge of giving up on those aspirations. It pleases me to say that Sgt. Phillips didn't give up, he instead put forth the effort and energy and was able to create and accomplish things at the facility that hadn't been done before and continues to do so. Sgt. Phillips is someone I consider a leader, mentor, a teacher and a friend."

CCHOC Superintendent Jason Johnson also wrote to nominate Phillips. Johnson commended Phillips for his efforts linking released inmates to community agencies, his expertise in gang-related intelligence, and his leadership in staff training.

Jerry Gagne

In any large facility such as a school, municipal building, nursing home, or office building, there are the faces of employees that the public sees when they visit to conduct business. What they often don't see is the person working behind the scenes, quietly making sure that all is running smoothly. For Carroll County Administration Building, that person behind the scenes is Maintenance Supervisor Jerry Gagne and for his effort he has been named NH County Employee of the Year.

In the nomination letter, Reade said, "Jerry has worked for Carroll County since 2003 as the maintenance person for the administration building. This building houses the sheriff's department, county attorney, registry of deeds, human resources, and the commissioner's office. Jerry handles all the maintenance needs of these departments. He is responsible for all custodial duties, wiring, air control, heating and cooling systems and the overall handyman needs of these departments. Jerry's duties are many and he is often pulled in many different directions. When requesting something from Jerry he will let you know when he can get to it and you never have to ask him twice. Jerry handles all situations with a calm attitude no matter how stressful the situation is. He is very dependable and reliable, never calling in sick, always here during storms, just a page away if the generator fails or some other crisis arises. Jerry is a valuable asset to Carroll County and is very deserving of this award."

David Meyers

The NH Sheriff's Office Employee of the Year is Carroll County Sheriff's Department Capt. David Meyers. He has been with the department for 12 years and is planning to retire at the end of this year. In the nomination letter, Sheriff Chris Conley wrote, "Captain Meyers is retiring after 12 years of service with Carroll County Sheriff's Office. Prior to Captain Meyers being promoted to lieutenant he was a member of the Criminal Investigations Unit and was responsible for all technology in the Sheriff's Office. Captain Meyers was integral in the formation and continuing success of the NH Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Captain Meyers is a leader in this field and all fields having to do with computer technology. Captain Meyers has spent his time with CCSO assisting agencies throughout the State of NH with these types of investigation. Upon being promoted to lieutenant Captain Meyer's was in charge of all day-t-day activities her at the sheriff's office as well and overseeing one of the busiest communications centers in the state. Upon promotion to Captain he continued to bring his office forward with sound leadership and commitment to the employees of Carroll County. Captain Meyers has worked on some large instrumental investigations with US Customs and in NH with very good results."

Commissioner of the Year

For the second year in a row, a Carroll County commissioner has received the NH Commissioner of the Year award. This year's 'award goes to commission chair David Sorensen. In addition to this award, Sorensen has also been named president of NHAOC.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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