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State agriculture employees honored for outstanding service

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[December 17, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD An Illinois Department of Agriculture egg inspector has been awarded the agency's top individual honor. Dennis Koelling was presented the Director's Achievement Award on Dec. 12 at the department's 35th annual Employee Luncheon and Awards Ceremony.

Koelling has been instrumental in Illinois' implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling program, known as COOL, a federal initiative that requires retailers to provide information to customers regarding the source of certain foods.

"Dennis has taken on extra duties these past few years to assist with the implementation of this program," said Agriculture Director Bob Flider. "He volunteered to learn the program, prepare training materials and train other department employees to perform COOL inspections, spending some of his own, personal time to complete these tasks."

The USDA recognizes Koelling's outstanding work as well. When recently performing upgrades to the program, the USDA asked him to serve as a consultant.

Koelling, a Bartelso resident, has worked for the state for 23 years. He was selected from among 10 Employee of the Month award winners. The other finalists were Daniel Connelly, David Gleason, William Houghton, Terri Howard, David Humphreys, Lori Kirby, Dr. Lori Miser, Douglas Owens and Julie Reifschneider.

Mike Rahe, an employee of the Bureau of Land and Water Resources, was presented the Assistant Director's Fellowship Award. Rahe, of Pittsfield, manages many of the department's soil conservation programs and was recognized for his "positive influence." As one co-worker wrote, "Mike's great attitude, ability to get along well with others and excellent work ethic all have a very positive effect on his colleagues and friends in the department."

Terry Savko, a Springfield resident, won the Ag Ambassador Award. According to co-workers, Savko, who administers the department's farmland preservation program, "has gained a reputation for being a very effective problem-solver. Her outgoing personality, professionalism, dedication and ability to multi-task are keys to her success, which reflects positively on the department."

The Ron King Award for Efficiency was presented to Kim Smith of Ashland. "Kim has streamlined the accounting process within the Bureau of Marketing, Promotion and Grants," Flider said. "Due to her efforts, the bureau now has a clear understanding of current and past expenditures and is better able to allocate its resources and plan for future projects."

The Commitment to Quality Award went to employees of the Galesburg Animal Disease Lab, who had to quickly learn new tests and new procedures this past year so the lab could expand its service offerings and meet the testing demands of the agriculture industry.

Prior to the awards ceremony, the department's social committee was presented an American flag in appreciation of care packages sent to the Illinois Army National Guard Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A10 during its deployment in Afghanistan.

Col. Michael Zerbonia, Warrant Officer Candidate Thomas Watson and Lt. Col. Ted Tracy made the presentation. The flag was flown over FOB Ghazni, Afghanistan, on April 8, 2013, the month before the team's return to the United States after an eight-month tour of duty. Tracy, the department's internal auditor, said the packages were a welcomed item, especially during the Christmas season when soldiers were separated from their families.

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Twenty-nine employees were honored during the ceremony for 10, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service. A complete list follows (with name and hometown):

35 years

  • Cheryl Bluhm, Riverton

  • Marla Ingram, Springfield

  • Martha McLaskey, West Frankfort

30 years

  • Tammy Grieme, Springfield

  • Valerie Strayer, Springfield

25 years

  • Lorraine Allen, Canton

  • Ronald Buchenau, Lena

  • Lori Churchill, Riverton

  • Deanna Clark, Athens

  • John Rebholz, Pontiac

  • Dawn Ribble, Chatham

  • Kim Smith, Ashland

  • Cathy Spencer, Pleasant Plains

  • Marilyn Steward, Springfield

  • Belinda Warner, Springfield

  • Kevin Wiegmann, Oregon

  • Dorothy Williams, Springfield

  • Matthew Williams, Pawnee

  • Gary Zelasko, Edwardsville

20 years

  • Carmen Addis, Lockport

  • Susan Baatz, Springfield

  • Greg Spalding, Streator

10 years

  • Jason Bergren, Monmouth

  • Thomas Cleland, Rockton

  • Dennis Hertz, Knoxville

  • Elliot Lagacy, Mahomet

  • Joseph McClintock, Glen Carbon

  • John Rednour Jr., Du Quoin

  • Carrie Tisckos, Springfield

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


 

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