Published 3:40 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

By Staff
Government employees, from the local level to the federal level, often are recipients of criticism leveled at them from the people they serve. Sometimes that criticism is justified.
But just as often, if not more, those employees do a good job. Some government employees do more than a good job.
That’s what Thursday’s employee appreciation for Beaufort County employees was all about — recognizing those government employees who do more than just what their job descriptions call for them to do.
It is even more satisfying for such workers to be honored by their peers, the very people who know just what it takes to serve the public on a daily basis.
Mary Toler, an employee with the Beaufort County Department of Social Services, was presented with the Above and Beyond Award, an honor that is presented on an annual basis to a county employee who exhibits tremendous dedication to his or her job.
Anyone who makes it a calling, not a job, to make sure children are protected from harm and works to take at-risk children from unsafe situations and move them to safe surroundings deserves to be honored for such efforts.
The world would be a better place with just one more Mary Toler.
Law-enforcement officers are sworn to protect life and property. Deputy Michael Sheppard with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office lived up to his oath when he rescued two people from a burning house in Washington last month.
For that act, Sheppard was presented the Safety and Heroism Award. Beaufort County residents can take pride in Sheppard’s dedication to his duty and the professional manner in which he carried out that duty.
Sheppard was willing to put his life on the line to save two people facing possible death.
Scott Cullom, a social-work supervisor with the Department of Social Services, received one of two Leadership Awards presented during the appreciation luncheon. Cullom was nominated by six people, according to County Manager Paul Spruill, who presented the awards to their recipients. Cullom was described by some of the people who nominated him as an excellent supervisor.
Catherine Keech, another social-work supervisor, received the other Leadership Award. The people who nominated Keech wanted her to be recognized for her advocacy for children and empathy for those she serves, according to Spruill.
DSS’ Aging Unit won the Teamwork Award for its well-run effort in working with health-care agencies, doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, Eagle’s Wings, The Blind Center and the Mid-East Commission.
One important aspect of any level of government is how it serves the public. DSS’ Laura Lewis believes the public deserves the best service it can get.
Lewis received the Customer Service Award because she places herself in the position of the person she is working with, enabling her to empathize with that person’s situation.
Beaufort County’s residents, commissioners and department heads can take pride in, and some of the credit for, the successes of those county employees who go beyond the call of duty when it comes to serving the public. Those dedicated employees can be found in each county department.
They know the key to public service is serving the public, something that is not always easy to do.
There are always those county employees who manage to do it every day. To them, we say you are appreciated.