By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Longtime and first-time employees of the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility were honored in an annual employee recognition ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
Johnnie Goddard, Kansas Department of Corrections deputy secretary for facilities management, and Doug Waddington, LCMHF warden, congratulated the employees for their service. The presentation was coordinated by Cody Ragan and Jordan Billinger.
“It’s important to take time to recognize some special people,” Waddington said. “It’s a hard job. These people give 100 percent. It’s important to keep your sense of humor to keep your balance. We are here to make a difference in their re-entry into society.”
Goddard had served as interim warden at LCMHF for six months.
“The employees do a tremendous job,” Goddard said. “Your mission is different here and most people have no clue until you come to work here. It takes time and patience to work here. The attitude is different. The pride in your work is visible. You work with various agencies — LCMHF, JJA, SRS, the Sexual Predator Treatment Program and the Central Office.”
Goddard said recent statistics indicate physical use of force numbers are lower, which indicate the staff is achieving its goals on day-to-day basis.
Major awards were presented to Merton Bivens, Volunteer of the Year; Brenda Wolfe, Contract Employee of the Year; Lana Hopkins, Non-Uniformed Employee of the Year; Scott Johnson, Uniformed Employee of the Year.
Major James Graham talked about Johnson, saying, “He has excelled in a lot of areas. He has integrity and ethics and he’s one of the leaders on the team. He contributes to our efforts every day.”
Deputy Warden Ray Reno talked about Hopkins, saying, “She has made innovative changes and excelled in all areas — the re-entry group, Reaching Out From Within program, Homeward Bound course, Financial Management course and developing resources for inmates who are close to release.”
Tony Harkins talked about Wolfe, saying, “She has been a key component. She always asks, ‘What else can I do to help out?’ ”
Dominic Geniuk praised Bivens saying, he started his work one day a week and has progressed to three days a week.
“He listens carefully to inmates and is a great role model,” Geniuk said. “He helps them make better choices.”
Other special awards were presented for Rookie’s Resources employees; Rookie of the Year — John Mayers, non uniformed; Lt. Ronald Bieberle, uniformed; Willing Worker — John Mayers, non uniformed; Aaron Hopkins, uniformed; Staff’s Choice — Shayla Smith, non uniformed; Tina Schmidt, uniformed; Supervisor’s Award of Excellence — Sgt. Mark Suchy; Sgt. Tanner Lang.
Friends of the Library recognition was presented to Steve McKiearnan, Kevin Barrett, Jennifer Wyman, Jamie Smith and Craig Salmans.
LCMHF employees with 20 years of service at the facility were recognized — Rodney Boese, Randy Green, Brian Pivonka, James Smith, Jr.; David Brown, Tracy Guesnier, Ray Reno, Jim Thomas, Patricia Brown, James Marshall, Craig Salmans, Mike Walker, James Graham, Anthony Moore, Kent Schmidt, Wayne Waller.
Service awards were presented to employees who had worked five to 30 years for the state of Kansas.
Five-year certificates — Curtis McAlister, Jason Baze, Daniel Holinde, John Mayers, Tanner Lang, Jon Long, Michael Becker, Roberto Castro, Steve McKiearnan, Sally Rose, Debra McAllaster, CCS; Susan Mathes, CCS; Roy Spray, CCS; Tonya Taylor, CCS.
10-year recognition — John Lampe, Nathan Durr, Brian Lawrence, Eugene Mull, Carolyn Perez, Elona Revers, CCS.
15-year recognition — Miranda Schmidt, Tim Easley, Dewane Hopkins, Shawn Pokorski.
20-year recognition — Ray Reno, James E. Smith, James Marshall, Rodney Boese, Wayne Waller, James Graham, Randy Green, Douglas Lawson.
25-year recognition — Robert Willesden, Anthony Moore, James Thomas.
30-year recognition — Patricia Brown.