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Heroic firefighters among employees chosen for annual awards

Firefighter Stephen Johnson and the team that rescued wounded MAST paramedic Mary Seymour in February 2004 will be among the City employees to be honored when the city, county and federal governments recognize their top performers this week at the 12th annual Public Employees Recognition Day Awards Ceremony. The event is at 2 p.m. May 5, in the Little Theater, 201 W. 13th St.

This year, the City will be represented by eight different individuals/groups. The City’s honorees are:

Stephen Johnson, Patrick Martin, Phil Atwood, Sean McKarnin, Marvin Donaldson and David Bradley – Distinguished Valor Award.

On Feb. 23, 2004, these firefighters responded to a call where a man who had set a house on fire shot at emergency crews arriving on the scene. The firefighters dodged gunfire to save paramedic Mary Seymour’s life. She had been shot twice as she tried to take cover.

While police officers distracted the shooter, these six firefighters began a rescue attempt, even though Seymour was 100 feet away and the shooting was continuing. The fire personnel could have remained where they were and waited for law enforcement tactical units. Instead, they took immediate action that is described as being of “the highest standards of performance of the fire service community, and (demonstrating) valor above and beyond even the highest call of duty.” Seymour was taken to a trauma center and doctors later told her that she likely would have died if she had arrived two minutes later. Seymour later nominated Johnson to be on ABC’s hit TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” which rehabilitates or builds homes for deserving families. Johnson and his family will be on the May 8 episode of the show.

Donna Mandelbaum – Distinguished Administrative/Professional Service Award.

Mandelbaum works in the Capital Improvements Management Office, which is a division of the City Manager’s Office. She has held the position since January 2004 and has been responsible for a variety of communications projects that vary in scope from overseeing a presentation at a national conference to working with numerous City departments to create maps for the Internet showing street closures and construction sites.

Alexis White – Distinguished Clerical Service Award.

White works in the Neighborhood and Community Services Department in the Social Services Division. She joined the division two years ago with limited clerical experience and since that time she has mastered various Microsoft programs and PeopleSoft. White’s organizational skills come in handy particularly during the summer months when the Social Services Division operates the Summer Food Service Program which provides meals to nearly 2,700 students daily.

David Marshall – Distinguished Community Service Award.

Marshall works in the Health Department’s Air Quality Program. His volunteer work with young boys includes coaching, tutoring, and taking youth to activities as part of the Second Mile Ministries. This organization is Christian faith-based and tries to help young boys build character and a sense of worth. Marshall has been involved for three years. He is also a member of Youth Friends. His work with Youth Friends includes going to middle schools in the urban core to serve as a mentor and a role model.

Richard Burnette – Distinguished Public Safety Award.

Burnette is a police officer in the Police Department. When responding to what seemed to be a “typical” residential robbery, Burnette further investigated the situation and helped an elderly female in poor health secure her home and eventually move in with family with the assistance of the Division of Aging. Burnette mowed the lady’s yard, took her to the bank to deposit the large amount of cash she kept at home and to open a safety deposit box for her valuables, and stopped by to check on her several times before she moved in with family. Her assets exceeded a $1 million.

Homi Kapadia, Cynthia Sholaja, Jo Lipari, Connie Marascuilo, Cherlyn Tanner, Leslie Turner, Susan Ferrell, Shawn Sierck, Joel Taylor, Phil Muncy, Melvin Price, Sandy Komula, Connie Hendrix and Lapondzia Jones – Distinguished Team Award.

These employees work in the Planning and Engineering Division of the Aviation Department. The division is responsible for overseeing the planning, design and construction of the department’s $795 million capital improvement program. In the past year, the division members exceeded what is normally expected and significantly improved customer service while working on the $258 million Terminal Improvement Project, and the $60 million Economy Parking Lot Project. Both projects opened on time and within budget.

Lee Hinkle – Distinguished Technical Service Award.

Hinkle has worked in the Information Technology Department since December 2004. Prior to that time, Hinkle was a member of the KC CREW PeopleSoft Implementation Team. After PeopleSoft went live, he created troubleshooting teams that visited all City departments, and developed additional training as needed. In his current position, Hinkle is a project manager, functional lead, liaison between the Information Technology Department and the business units, mentor, financial systems resource, and the “right-hand person” for the division manager.

Phillip Yelton – Distinguished Trade/Craft Service Award.

Yelton works in the Public Works Department as a carpenter. He repairs and builds City assets which saves the City money because items that might typically have to be replaced are fixed. A recent example of his quality workmanship is a modification he made to the judges’ bench in the Municipal Court. The change resulted in a safer working environment by minimizing client contact. He also does considerable work in the City’s fire stations. Yelton has even repaired citizens’ mailboxes after being damaged accidentally during snow removal operations.

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