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State agriculture employees honored for outstanding service

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[December 15, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture's webmaster has been awarded the agency's top individual honor. Mike Knepler was presented the Director's Achievement Award on Thursday at the department's 34th annual Employee Luncheon and Awards Ceremony.

"Mike's work has been instrumental to the success of the Bureau of Marketing, Promotion and Grants, in particular," said Agriculture Director Bob Flider. "He has developed a new Web page for the bureau and posted forms online for companies and partnerships to expedite the delivery of information, specifically during planning for the Illinois Products Expo and Ag Legislative Day events."

Knepler, a Springfield resident who has worked for the state 17 years, was selected from among 11 Employee of the Month award winners. Other finalists were Susan Baatz, Sherri Powell, Laurie Leuenberger, Tom Waller, John Hughey, Lee McKean, Dawn Ribble, Kristi Jones, Kelly Beck and Kent McFarland.

Wendy Call, an employee of the Division of Food Safety and Animal Protection, was presented the Assistant Director's Fellowship Award. Call, of Springfield, was honored for her "unfailing good cheer." As one colleague wrote: "Wendy is known as a 'go to' person when others need help. She truly fulfills the spirit of this award."

Former general counsel Shari West, an Illiopolis resident, won the Ag Ambassador Award. According to co-workers, West's "natural legal abilities and calming demeanor not only improved the public's understanding of the department's services, but also promoted a positive perception of the agricultural industry."

The Commitment to Quality Award was presented to the architects of Driftwatch, a new, Web-based tool that aims to protect pesticide-sensitive crops by improving communication between growers and commercial pesticide applicators. The program allows specialty growers to enter the location of their fields on an Internet map that pesticide applicators can consult to avoid spraying sensitive crops. Staff worked with representatives of Purdue University to make it available. The team included Steve Chard and Kevin Rogers, both of Springfield, Scott Frank of Mason City, and Warren Goetsch of Williamsville.

The Ron King Award for Efficiency went to Linda McQuinn of Springfield, an employee of the Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Services.

"Linda has streamlined the agency's property accounting system," Flider said. "She has taken responsibility for all equipment vouchers, ensuring that no item goes untagged and unrecorded, and has worked with bureaus to ensure accurate and timely annual property inventory reporting. She also has reconciled property records and developed a system to surplus property to CMS on a regular basis."

Well-wishes were sent to Ted Tracy, the department's internal auditor. Tracy, a member of the Illinois National Guard, currently is serving in Afghanistan.

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Twenty-seven employees were honored during the ceremony for 10, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service. A complete list follows with names and hometowns.

40 years:

  • Robert Dennis, Springfield

35 years:

  • James Cavanaugh, Wonder Lake

  • Lynda Musselman, Sherman

30 years:

  • Dale Hook, Millington

  • John Lohse, Rochester

  • Tammy Payne, Springfield

  • Rita Taylor, Pleasant Plains

  • Thomas Tournear, Dover

25 years:

  • Howard Baker, Minonk

  • Brenda Books, Sherman

  • William Herrin, Colfax

  • Gina Merano, Kincaid

  • Brenda Shanle, Buffalo

  • Janet Still, Mount Sterling

  • Roy Winbigler, Galesburg

20 years:

  • Lynn Burton, Galesburg

  • Leann Fitzgerald, Rochester

  • Juliann Heminghous, Chatham

  • Laurie Leuenberger, Stonington

  • Donald Ruckman, Altamont

  • Shelley Snyder, Gilson

  • Craig Von Burg, Carlyle

10 years:

  • Dennis Beckmier, Humboldt

  • Robert Edwards, Arcola

  • David Gleason, Springfield

  • Brenda Shepherd, Oneida

  • Barbara Stewart, Lamoille

[Text from Illinois Department of Agriculture file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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