Weekly comments from Dale Martin – City employees “contribute, most often unheralded, to the wonderful quality of life that we enjoy”

By Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
December 4, 2020

City Manager Dale Martin

Added to the long and growing list of events cancelled due to the pandemic is the City’s annual Employee Service Awards breakfast. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small event when compared to missed births, weddings, graduations, funerals, and other significant gatherings and events that everyone has had to endure this year. The awards breakfast was a relatively rare opportunity for the entire City staff (or as many as possible) to celebrate the collaborative efforts of everyone.

The breakfast, organized by the City’s Human Resources Department, has been traditionally held at the City Golf Course. As indicated, all City staff (and City Commissioners) were invited, and typically, with the exception of public safety shift personnel, nearly everyone attended- seating overflowed the banquet room into the lounge area.

The City staff to be formally recognized at the breakfast were those staff that had reached a five-year incremental milestone of working for the City. Each employee so recognized received a plaque of increasing size based upon the years of service. Also as part of the event, a few prizes donated (usually received due to the festiveness of the holidays) by local vendors or service providers were raffled.

Even without the breakfast event, I believe that the dedicated service of so many employees deserves community recognition.

This year’s Five-Year Service awards recognize (in alphabetical order) Karen Austin (Building), Ken Baker (Information Technology), Antoinette Brown (Human Resources), Sheila Faricy (Parks and Recreation), BJ Norfleet (Building), Jacob Platt (Planning and Conservation), Luke Powell (Fire)Nayeli Romero (Parks and Recreation), and Ty Silcox (Fire).

The Ten-Year Service awards recognize Daniel Hulett (Fire), Chad Manning (Fleet and Facilities), Sylvie McCann (Planning and Conservation), Matthew Morris (Fire), and Mark Ocepek (Police).

The Fifteen-Year Service awards recognize Joe Evans (Wastewater), Michelle Forstrom (Code Enforcement), Joshua Glisson (Water), Larry Pratt (Streets), Barb Rathmell (Finance), Adam Shively (Water), and Tina Smith (Police).

Twenty-Year Service awardees include Jason Brown (Parks and Recreation), Joe Cooner (Watewater), John Coverdell (Parks and Recreation), Matthew Edison (Fire), Tracey Hamilton (Police), and Donna Kelley (Parks and Recreation).

Nan Voit (Parks and Recreation) is the sole Twenty-Five Year employee this year, and no employees qualify for Thirty-Year recognition this year.

Two employees do, however, deserve meritorious recognition for Thirty-Five Year Service awards. CPT David Bishop (Police) and Mr. Rex Lester (Streets) have faithfully served this community, each starting their service in entry level positions in a much different community and ascending into key leadership positions of a much more complex organization.

The aforementioned employees alone represent 420 years of community service. Sprinkled among the five-year incremental milestones are dozens of other employees with hundreds of additional years of service, thousands of hours of training and certification, and many degrees and professional credentials.

Every day these workers contribute, most often unheralded, to the wonderful quality of life that we enjoy in Fernandina Beach. Many staff rarely interact with the general public, but their efforts provide critical support to every other employee. Water, Wastewater, Streets, Police, and Fire employees are often challenged by outdoor elements- heat, wind, rain, and even during hurricanes when many flee for safety, they remain on-duty to protect the lives and property of residents and to ensure the operation of City infrastructure.

I, too, reached the Five-Year Service plateau this year. Given the typical volatility of professional city management, those years of service should be measured like dog years! I believe that the stability of staff and the City Commission have served this community well (for an interesting comparison, the City of Delray Beach has had eight City Managers in eight years).

On behalf of all City employees, thank you for your community support. I’d also like to thank Mayor Johnny Miller and Commissioner Philip Chapman, both of whose terms on the City Commission conclude shortly. Thank you, gentlemen, for stepping up to serve Fernandina Beach.

Please remember to vote in the Tuesday, December 8 City Commission Run-off Election.

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DAVID LOTT(@dave-l)
3 years ago

I certainly echo Dale’s accolades for the City’s employees. You look at the long timers like Captain Bishop and Rex Lester and the short(er) timers (LOL) like Nan Voit and realize the wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring to others in the workforce. During my short time as Interim CM back in 2012, I became even more impressed by the dedication of all the employees to make Fernandina Beach a better place to live. Acts such as a crew from Utilities repairing a broken water supply line working in waist-high marsh water with an alligator lurking in the distance, Fire Rescue and Police working during the height of tropical storms demonstrate that dedication. But so do those staff working “behind the scenes” keeping the city moving forward. Of course, not everything is perfect all the time, but the staff should be treated in a respectful manner. Thank you Dale for recognizing the work force under your leadership.

Perry Anthony
Perry Anthony (@guest_59704)
3 years ago

Our CM Dale Martin forgot to mention that FBPD Chief Hurley is retiring at the end of this month after serving the dept. for over 10-years. Chief Hurley was going to retire a few years ago after serving on the dept. for 10 years, but was convinced to stay on a few more years. Chief Hurley came from the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department in South Florida’s Broward County. He has done an outstanding job in our community and I am sad to see him go. Good luck to you in your retirement Chief Hurley, you certainly deserve it. And thank you for your service in our community, we truly appreciate it.

Susan Steger
Susan Steger(@co-editor-2)
3 years ago
Reply to  Perry Anthony

Chief Hurley will be retiring, but not at the end of this month.