Mayor Don Wesely today presented the Mayor's Award of Excellence for January to Richard Slama and Ron Eriksen, Jr. of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD). The monthly award recognizes city employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the city. The award was presented at the beginning of today's City Council meeting.
This team was nominated by Scott Holmes, Chief of the Environmental Health Division for LLCHD, in the categories of productivity and customer relations. Following September 11, the threat of anthrax became a concern across the nation and locally. Eriksen and Slama responded to 57 calls about suspicious packages, letters, and unusual powders at businesses and homes.
As the core staff of the Public Health Emergency Response Team of the LLCHD, Eriksen and Slama respond to all kinds of environmental health emergency calls, including hazardous materials spills, mercury spills, traffic accidents with fluid spills, reports of illegal dumping of special and hazardous waste, and outdoor air quality problems. They also provide law enforcement officials with hazardous chemical monitoring, handling, evidence storage and disposal assistance for methamphetamine labs. LLCHD's help on meth labs saved our law enforcement agencies at least $20,000 in handling and disposal costs over the past year.
The Public Health Emergency Response Team usually handles about 25 calls a month. During October and November of 2001, the team responded to125 emergency calls, and Eriksen and Slama handled 107 of them. This emergency response is just one part of their job duties. They are the key staff of the Special Waste Program and work with about 1,000 businesses and government agencies. They provide pollution prevention assistance, review waste inventories, issue permits, investigate complaints, and assure compliance with local regulations to keep the city's landfills free of hazardous waste. Eriksen has also worked with area high schools to eliminate many hazardous chemicals stored in their science labs.
"Richard and Ron are on call every day of the week and receive no on-call or overtime pay," said Holmes. "Hazardous materials emergency calls come in at every hour of the night and day and have no respect for city holidays. For example, over the Thanksgiving weekend, they responded to eight different emergency calls working over 20 hours during the holiday weekend. They work tirelessly for the people of Lincoln and Lancaster County, and they do it with professionalism, carried by their passion for protecting people's health and our environment."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are loss prevention, safety and valor. All city employees are eligible for the Mayor's Award of Excellence except for elected officials and some managers. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public.
Nomination forms are available from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Personnel Department, which oversees the awards program. All nominations are reviewed by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $100 U.S. savings bond, a day off with pay and a plaque. Monthly winners are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $500 U.S. savings bond, two days off with pay and a plaque.