2013 Employee Recognition Awards - Land Use & Regulatory

GOLD - Ben Winkleblack, Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter

In recognition of his outstanding job performance as a veterinary technician, in February 2011 Ben was promoted to Shelter Manager. Ben possesses considerable knowledge in the areas of animal health and medicine, shelter management, and information technology, has superlative analytic and judgment skills, and is extremely receptive to new ideas to improve the organization and enhance service to the community. Ben secured over $100,000 in grant funds to provide free spay and neuter services and reduced cost microchips and rabies vaccinations for cats. He also organized and executed the shelter's first major fundraising evening, "Top Hats for Tails," raising over $10,000 for shelter operations and bringing public awareness to the work of the shelter and opportunities for animal adoption. Ben provides oversight of building maintenance needs and has also implemented a number of innovative information technology upgrades which have improved shelter operations in many areas. Ben is always courteous and professional with staff and the public. His effective communication skills have allowed him to build bridges between the shelter and outside agencies, including advocacy groups, veterinary clinics, and vendors. Ben is a pivotal member of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter and is to be commended for the excellent ways in which he consistently supports so many aspects of Shelter operations.

SILVER - Greg Martin of Public Works

As a Civil Engineer in the Public Works Department, Greg is keenly aware of the lack of available funding to maintain the County's network of approximately 600 miles of County maintained roads.  After attending webinars and coordinating efforts with County road crews and Caltrans officials, Greg prepared successful grant applications to remove and replace dilapidated guardrails, construct new guardrails, and perform striping on several rural roads throughout the unincorporated area of the county.  As a result of Greg's outstanding work in preparing the necessary grant application documents, the County received over $2.3 million from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.  These grant funds will allow the County to allocate limited resources to other areas, while local contractors will have the opportunity to bid on grant-funded improvement projects, thereby increasing local job opportunities.  Greg is to be commended for his efforts to secure additional resources to conduct critically needed road maintenance in our community.

BRONZE - Shared by members of the "Outside the Box" Team:

Kathy DeWild of the Public Works Department's Parks Division
Jack Sohriakoff of Public Works

Kathy serves as the Parks Division Program Coordinator responsible for overseeing the County's public art program and Jack is the County's Traffic Engineer with responsibility for road planning and development review. Kathy approached Jack about the possibility of implementing a traffic box art program, known as "Outside the Box," in the unincorporated areas of the county. The traffic box art program is designed to beautify traffic signal controller boxes and reduce graffiti while enhancing public art projects in an era of decreased funding. Working together, Jack and Kathy developed a program to address the long-term maintenance of utility boxes in the unincorporated area utilizing an existing public art selection process to solicit proposals from artists while also addressing artist safety. This program allows Jack and Kathy to collaborate on appropriate locations, after which a call to artists is released, an art selection panel reviews the proposals and selects the artists, a vendor prepares the boxes for painting, local artists complete the work, and the vendor applies a clear anti-graffiti coating to protect the finished product. A total of 34 traffic signal controller boxes now depict beautiful art from local artists portraying unique community landmarks, area history and culture, native plants and animals, and local characters. This highly successful program has beautified our environment while also addressing the problem of graffiti. Kathy and Jack are to be commended for their joint efforts to bring this program to fruition.