Recognizing Everyday Excellence
The Employee Excellence webpage recognizes those county employees who ensure that resources and services are available for our residents, businesses and guests through innovative adaptations to processes, integrating new technologies and overall committed efforts and resiliency. Many of these stories are recognized by County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey at the monthly Board of Supervisors meetings for exemplifying everyday excellence in service to the county.
September 2023 Everyday Excellence: Storm Team
(Parks and Recreation and Environmental Engineering)
During the Wednesday, Sept. 27 Board of Supervisors meeting, Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized the storm team members from Parks and Recreation - Parks Operations and Environmental Engineering as the recipients of the September 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for all they do to keep roadways clear of downed trees.
Members of the storm team are tasked with being ready either in advance of weather or in situations where things come together unexpectedly. They are called out during the event to help keep roadways and county facilities clear.
“These gentlemen, many of whom volunteer for this role, are truly behind-the-scenes heroes that play a critical part in our emergency response operations,” said Deputy County Administrator Clay Bowles in introducing the members of the team.
One such response happened earlier this month when, at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7, the crew members were mobilized due to a line of storms passing through the area. Alongside calls for first responders throughout that night amid numerous power outages, the county also received a total of 22 calls for downed trees and road closures. The storm team members were dispatched to those calls and worked through each one until being directed to stand down at approximately 1:30 a.m.
Those from Parks and Recreation who were part of the Sept. 7 operation included Doug Hawthorne, Joe Cree, Billy Hall, Michael Robbins, Jonny Folster, Billy Cooke, Stan Thorne and Vince Henderson. And from the Environmental Engineering team, the members of the storm crew included Jerry Duffy, Jason Hutchinson, Carl Glover, Patrick Jensen, Trip Hatch, Tommy Napier, Kyle Novak, James Brooks and Olin Glover.
“This is just the latest example of the value and hard work of these folks,” Bowles said. “This storm hit especially hard and very quickly.”
“I know one of my neighborhoods was hit really hard with downed trees on cars and homes and the roadways were even blocked,” said Supervisor Jim Holland (Dale District). “We greatly appreciate your efforts […] You made a tremendous difference.”
“Providence Road, points east, really got hit hard and so I just want to say thank y’all for clearing up those areas,” said Supervisor Chris Winslow (Clover Hill District). “I got a lot of good, positive comments about how quickly the cleanup occurred and so I just want say to all of you, thank you so much for that.”
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the Sept. 27 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Employees from Parks and Recreation who are members of the county's storm team were recognized at the Sept. 27 Board of Supervisors meeting as the recipient of the September 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for all of their hard work in clearing trees and debris, most recently following the Sept. 7 storms that hit Chesterfield.
Employees from Environmental Engineering who are members of the county's storm team were recognized at the Sept. 27 Board of Supervisors meeting as the recipient of the September 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for all of their hard work in clearing trees and debris, most recently following the Sept. 7 storms that hit Chesterfield.
August 2023 Everyday Excellence: Calvin Godette
During the Wednesday, Aug. 23 Board of Supervisors meeting, Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized Utilities employee Calvin Godette as the recipient of the August 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for for constantly going the extra mile for other people, including a special act of kindness for Denise Walters.
Godette, a 19-year veteran of Chesterfield County Utilities, was tabbed by his peers as the 2022 Water Distribution Employee of the Year. But it wasn’t that or the additional 388 hours of overtime (including during Christmas) he worked helping to repair broken water mains that changed Walters’ day on June 1, 2023. On that afternoon Godette, having been in the truck in front of her at the drive thru line at Burger King, noticed Walters behind him and how upset she appeared so he decided to pay for her meal. Unbeknownst to Godette, Walters was on her way to the funeral home for the visitation to honor her late husband of 41 years, Andy.
Needless to say, it was a moment Walters will never forget.
“It touched my heart that someone would do this for me on one of the saddest days of my life,” she told the Board of Supervisors. “He saw that I was upset and showed compassion to a complete stranger."
“I am so thankful that there was a phone number on his truck to call with comments,” she added with a laugh. “Usually people call that number with complaints. But I was determined that this man should be recognized for his kind gesture.”
When Walters tried to show a token of her appreciation to Godette, he responded by giving her an envelope with funds collected in his department in hopes that Walters would use it for flowers at her husband’s grave.
“I feel honored to have the opportunity to thank Calvin and give him a big hug,” Walters said. “Keep living your good life, Calvin. You are a true blessing.”
“I’m pretty sure every one of us wiped our eyes,” Vice Chair Jim Ingle (Bermuda District) said after hearing Walters’ account of that day and their interaction. “Both of you—the act of kindness and the graciousness in which you received it—are truly amazing.”
“We’re very fortunate in Chesterfield County that we live in a good community,” Chair Kevin Carroll (Matoaca District) added. “You just reinforced that.”
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the Aug. 23, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Calvin Godette (right) was recognized at the Aug. 23 Board of Supervisors meeting as the recipient of the August 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for constantly going the extra mile for other people. A 19-year veteran of the Utilities department, Godette showed resident Denise Walters (left) a special kindness in June when he paid for her lunch on the day of her husband’s funeral.
July 2023 Everyday Excellence: Captain Kenneth "Cecil" Sehlhorst
(Fire and EMS)
During the Wednesday, July 26 Board of Supervisors meeting, Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized Captain Kenneth “Cecil” Sehlhorst as the recipient of the July 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for his nearly 30 years of service with Chesterfield County Fire and EMS.
Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Chief Loy Senter introduced Sehlhorst to the board, honoring him for his professionalism, positive can-do attitude and willingness to tackle any and all duties as assigned.
“For two years, Captain Sehlhorst served as the department’s point of contact as we worked through the ESCI (Emergency Services Consulting International) study, and his efforts were instrumental in providing a quality product that will no doubt shape the future of our department for decades to come,” said Senter. “He’s also committed to his work to obtain multiple state and federal grants, totaling $3.4 million in support of our special operations teams.”
Sehlhorst holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in disaster science from the University of Richmond. He’s served in fire administration as Senter’s executive officer for the past five years, and, over the course of his career, Sehlhorst has served at Matoaca, Bensley and Dutch Gap fire stations, alongside his two-year Medflight service. In addition, he’s an active member of Chesterfield’s technical rescue team, search and rescue program, dive team and incident management team. Sehlhorst also serves as a tactical medic for both the Chesterfield Police Department SWAT team and the Virginia State Police Division 1 SWAT team.
Sehlhorst has provided unwavering support and dedication to his fellow firefighters, Chesterfield residents and families of fallen Chesterfield County Fire and EMS members throughout his time in public service.
“Where he may leave the most lasting impression on others is for his efforts to serve the families of our fallen members,” said Senter. “For the past couple of years, he has worked very closely with the families of firefighter recruit Tyvaughn Eldridge and was the logistical point of contact for Virginia State Police investigators, who was doing a background investigation on the death of firefighter Alicia Monahan, which resulted in a favorable ruling. Please join me in thanking him for all he does for our residents.”
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the June 28, 2023, Board of Supervisors meeting.
Capt. Kenneth “Cecil” Sehlhorst was recognized at the July 26 Board of Supervisors meeting as the recipient of the July 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for his nearly 30-year career with Chesterfield Fire and EMS during which he has been instrumental in the department earning $3.4 million in grant funding.
June 2023 Everyday Excellence: LaPrade Library and Fire and EMS
(Chesterfield County Public Library and Fire and EMS)
During the Wednesday, June 28 Board of Supervisors meeting Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized staff at LaPrade Library as well as the first responders of Chesterfield Fire and EMS Engine 202, Medic 202 and Peak Ambulance 202 as the recipients of the June 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for administering Narcan to a customer who was experiencing an overdose.
Dr. Casey introduced staff to the Board of Supervisors including:
- LaPrade Library staff: Danielle Tarullo, Alyssa Pecoraro, Bob Eshleman and Molly Vrbicek
- Chesterfield Fire and EMS Engine 202: Lt. Chris Allen, Firefighter Antonio Quinones and Firefighter Ronald Benton
- Chesterfield Fire and EMS Medic 202: Firefighter Bryan Foley and Firefighter Brandon Evans
- Chesterfield Fire and EMS Peak Ambulance 202: Firefighter Jason Patterson and Firefighter Jonathan Wilson
On June 1, LaPrade Library staff observed unstable behaviors from a customer using a computer. While checking in on the customer, library staff could not wake the customer up. They reacted immediately by retrieving Narcan, calling 911 and administering two doses of Narcan to the customer. When medical personnel arrived, the customer was transported to the hospital. The EMTs told library staff the Narcan had worked; the customer was reviving and did not require any more Narcan because of their responsiveness.
“I want to express my immense gratitude to the many county employees who came together as one which ultimately saved this customer’s life,” said Dr. Casey. “Their quick action and teamwork and ability to stay calm throughout the situation is impressive, and we are very familiar with Fire and EMS on the first line and being the first responders for public safety and public health needs, but to put library staff in that same position [...] it’s a highlight of this.”
“Thank you very much, all of you, for what you did – for our community, for this person and for taking the initial steps educate yourself and others,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Kevin P. Carroll, Matoaca District. “Hopefully, the people watching this will take those additional steps and get educated because, you never know, the life you save may be your own.”
The Chesterfield Community Services Board (CSB), alongside the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, provides life-saving skills through their REVIVE program, such as administering Narcan in the case of an opioid overdose. If interested in receiving REVIVE training, please call the CSB’s Opioid Outreach Coordinator at 804-717-6169.
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the June 28, 2023, Board of Supervisors meeting.
LaPrade Library staff as well as first responders from Fire and EMS were recognized at the June 28 Board of Supervisors meeting.
May 2023 Everyday Excellence: Joanne Hodgson
(Sheriff's Office Volunteer)
During the Thursday, May 25 Board of Supervisors meeting Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized Joanne Hodgson as the recipient of the May 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for all she does during her time volunteering at the county court complex.
The court docket volunteer since 2019, Hodgson has been volunteering for an average of 60 hours per month with the Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office. On Monday and Fridays, Hodgson can be found in the main court building near the docket board answering questions and providing guidance.
Her assistance not only allows visitors to arrive in a timely manner but it frees up sworn staff to focus on other courthouse operations.
“When you first walk in the courthouse, the first thing you’re going to see is her standing there in the hallway by the boards that post all of the cases for the day in both general district and circuit court,” said Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard. “As you can imagine when people come to court, it’s a pretty trying time for them. You’re a defendant, you’re a witness, you’re a victim. Whatever part you have in the case, it’s going to be an emotional day and a trying day. For most people, they’ve never been to court before so it’s a very unknown experience. So the first face they meet is Joanne and she’s always there with a smile, to help and to get people where they need to be on time.”
A lot of people come to the building not knowing what courtroom to go to or what floor they need to be on. Hodgson is a big reason why they are able to get there quickly and without issue.
“She’s always there to help them and she’s done a really great job for us,” Leonard explained. “Joanne is our only person working there right now and she does a great job for all these citizens trying to bring them into a comfort zone where they can go deal with the business at hand. And it’s not only just court. It’s ‘Where do I get my marriage license?’ or ‘Where do I get my deed for my house?’ or ‘Where do I pay fines?’ and things of that nature. She’s also very helpful, always has that smile on, and has never had a bad day.”
“When I started in 2019, there were no instructions,” Hodgson told the Board of Supervisors. “No work instructions, no SOP [standard operating procedures], nothing. The only thing I found out my first day was that 10:30 [a.m.] are the pre-trial hearings and 10:45 [a.m.] for protective orders and 11 o’clocks [a.m.] are the jail pre-trial [hearings]. I kind of learned a lot on my own but I have to say, I really depended on a lot of the deputies to answer a lot of my questions and help me learn.”
“It’s something I completely enjoy and I’m glad to help not only the Sheriff’s Department but also the citizens,” she added. “Some people come in very scared. They don’t know what’s going to happen. And I’m not a lawyer so I can give them general information, but they seem to be put at ease when they go in. So I really enjoy it.”
“When we have volunteers,” Leonard said, “it really is selfless service because they’re not getting paid for it and you sacrifice your time, and we really do appreciate it.”
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the May 25, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Sheriff's Office volunteer Joanne Hodgson was recognized at the May 25 Board of Supervisors meeting. From left: Jim Holland, Jim Ingle, Joanne Hodgson, Kevin Carroll, Chris Winslow and Mark Miller.
April 2023 Everyday Excellence: Special Victims Section
During the Wednesday, April 26 Board of Supervisors meeting Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized several members of the Chesterfield Police Department’s Special Victims Section as the recipients of the April 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for all they do to combat human trafficking and protect the residents of the county.
Col. Jeffrey Katz, Chief of Police, introduced several members of the team to the Board of Supervisors. Due to the nature of their work, the names and identities of those team members are being withheld to protect their anonymity.
“It is my distinct privilege and honor to come before you today to recognize some members of our Special Victims Section of the Police Department,” he said, highlighting the work that the personnel within that division do to preserve life and to protect the vulnerable.
The enforcement team runs operations throughout the county in partnership with state and federal agencies in order to curtail human trafficking.
“We talk about the preservation of human life: The lifespan of a trafficked victim is about seven years,” Katz told members of the board. “So you talk about preserving life, that’s certainly what [the team members are] doing. When you’re talking about protecting the vulnerable, you often have people who have substance-abused disorders, they’re being strung out, they’re being pimped, and they’re engaging in sexual activity with people against their will or consent.”
The detectives involved in the Special Victims Section have worked tirelessly to not only find offenders but to set up ways in which the perpetrators of these heinous crimes can be brought to justice.
“This group of individuals […] conduct a variety of stings throughout the year,” Katz explained. “Many of them are internet-based things and they do an exceptional job of identifying people who would prey on the vulnerable and exploit people during their worst times.
“I’m exceptionally proud of the work that they do,” he added. “I don’t want to get into any operational specifics but suffice to say that between this entire group they have I’m sure saved dozens and dozens of lives. For that, I am deeply grateful.”
In thanking them for their service, Chair Kevin Carroll (Matoaca District) said that many people don’t realize the weight of what working these crimes and trying to catch these criminals can have on the detectives involved.
“It really takes a special individual, even in law enforcement, to do what they do,” he said, adding that it’s the role of the board and the county to make sure they have the resources they need to do the work they do.
“Keep up the great work,” Carroll added, “and know that there are people in our community who do pray for you every day and there are people who absolutely appreciate what you do.”
March 2023 Everyday Excellence: Accounts Payable
During the Wednesday, March 8 Board of Supervisors meeting Chesterfield Deputy County Administrator Matt Harris recognized members of Accounting, specifically Accounts Payable, as the recipients of the March 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for all of the work they do for the county.
Assistant Director of Accounting Kevin Payne introduced members of the Accounts Payable team to the Board of Supervisors including Jessica Tankersley, Diane Lanier and Drecilla Smith.
The Accounts Payable team is responsible for processing all vendor payments for the county and Chesterfield County Public Schools. Typically, Accounts Payable is not revenue producing but with a pair of programs, the E-payables Program and the Purchasing Card Program, they’ve recently been able to do just that.
The E-payables Program is a virtual card payment option offered to vendors who wish to enroll. Last year, the program produced just over $320,000 in revenue by allowing the county to receive a rebate from its banking services provider based on total program spending. In 2022, with the hard work of the staff, specifically program administrator Jessica Tankersley, the county began a new enrollment campaign and was able to enroll 172 additional vendors. That brought the total number up to 622, a 38% increase.
Since it’s inception in 2011, the E-payables Program has brought in approximately $3 million in revenue with the 2022 rebate being the largest the county has received. Not only does the county receive revenue and have reduced costs normally associated with check printing and postage, but enrolled vendors are able to receive their payments quicker and are able to process these electronic payments more efficiently.
The Purchasing Card Program, meanwhile, offers a physical credit card to selected employees which allows them to make eligible small-dollar purchases. These cards have pre-determined monthly and transactional limits set by department directors. Not only does this make the procurement process more efficient for users but the county is also able to consolidate these purchases into one monthly payment to our card provider. Like the E-payables Program, the county receives a rebate based on the total amount spent and saves on printing and postage. The rebate for 2022 was just over $88,000, which was also the largest since the inception of this program.
Led by program administrators Diane Lanier and Drecilla Smith, the county has received $586,000 in revenue from its Purchasing Card Program since 2011.
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the March 8, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Members of the Accounting Department, and specifically the Accounts Payable team, were recognized at the March 8 Board of Supervisors meeting.
February 2023 Everyday Excellence: Trades Crew and the District 5 Maintenance Crew
(Parks and Recreation)
During the Wednesday, Feb. 22 Board of Supervisors meeting Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized members of two crews from Parks and Recreation as the recipient of the February 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for all the work they do on the county’s trails.
Parks and Recreation Director Neil Luther introduced the members of both the Trades Crew and the District 5 Maintenance Crew, thanking them for their service to Chesterfield.
“They are the core group,” Luther said of the Trades Crew trio of TJ Poore (Principal Labor Crew Chief), Dewey Osborne (Principal Maintenance Worker) and Brandon Ellis (Principal Labor Crew Chief). “We have 44 miles of trail and it seems like we’re adding a little bit all of the time.”
The Trades Crew serves all maintenance districts and is responsible for Chesterfield’s trails as well as the mechanical shop that services all of the equipment. Over Christmas, they were responsible for installing the 800-foot top portion of a new trail near Cosby High School and the culvert pipe for drainage at the site.
In also introducing them to the board, Luther explained that the Trades Crew is aided greatly by the District 5 Maintenance Crew which consists of Jeff Rogers (Park District Manager) and Keith Wells (Principal Labor Crew Chief).
The District 5 Maintenance Crew maintains an array of parks, schools and other county sites. They were responsible for limbing, bush-hogging and cutting back the treeline and underbrush at Cosby to widen and prep the area for the new trail. They also handled all coordination with the contractor on the hill section of the project.
“I’d like to thank them very much,” Luther said of the crews. “They make my job so incredibly easy. They’re always willing to step in and do whatever is necessary [...] Being able to get out and walk with family and friends is just an incredible resource for everyone in this community and I’d like to thank this team and a lot of other folks who chip in on a regular basis to make that possible.”
“Y’all did a great job up at the high school with the walkway that you put in,” Board Chair Kevin Carroll (Matoaca) said. “You can tell by the amount of cars parking on Village Square Parkway now that it’s being highly used [...] It was very appreciated by the community and I appreciate your hard work.”
“It makes a huge difference for the citizens, and it makes a huge difference for me,” said Supervisor Jim Holland (Dale). “I walk them too. Thank you for being here today, thank you for your service to all of the citizens of Chesterfield County, and thank you for the difference you make in the lives of so many.”
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the Feb. 22, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Members of the Trades Crew and District 5 Maintenance Crew from Parks and Recreation were recognized at the Feb. 22 Board of Supervisors meeting.
January 2023 Everyday Excellence: Dave Sirois
During the Wednesday, Jan. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting Chesterfield County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey recognized Utilities employee Dave Sirois as the recipient of the January 2023 Everyday Excellence Award for going above and beyond to help a Brandermill boy retrieve a prized possession.
Sirois, a 26-year veteran of Chesterfield County Utilities, currently serves as the plant manager at the Addison-Evans Water Treatment Facility. But it wasn’t just his experience and expertise that proved so valuable last year when this event occurred. It was also his action and excellent customer service that shined through.
On Monday, Nov. 14, the Kuntz family was at Sunday Park when Jackson’s soccer ball was blown down a hill and into the Swift Creek Reservoir. Thanks to the wind, the ball continued toward the water treatment facility where his father Darrell assumed it had finally come to rest. He reached out to the Department of Utilities via email in hopes of obtaining a “brief visitor privilege” to go in and see if he could find the ball.
But that wasn’t necessary: Sirois had it covered.
The next morning around 9:30 a.m., Sirois responded to Kuntz, conveying that he had received the email, was able to locate the ball and had scooped it up using a pool skimmer. About an hour later, Kuntz came to the facility to retrieve the ball so that he could return it to Jackson.
Kuntz wrote a letter, which was read to the Board of Supervisors by Utilities Director George Hayes, in which Kuntz thanked Sirois for his efforts in getting the ball back to his son.
“In my experience of dealing with local government entities and utilities other than Chesterfield County in the past, I have never received such care and attention as I did on this occasion,” Kuntz wrote in the letter. “I think Mr. Sirois deserves individual recognition for setting the standard for this type of public service that should be routinely practiced by all public servants.
“I believe this is the type of leadership that has the effect of creating a culture of service within a group of employees,” he added. “Small actions can have significant impacts, especially when it comes to building institutional trust among the public.”
“Dave, I want to publicly thank you for everything you do for our customers and the Department of Utilities,” Hayes said. “Dave is truly the definition of a public servant and he presents a culture at the plant that we would all like to embody. He inspires us to be better public servants.”
For more information, view the Everyday Excellence presentation during the Jan. 25, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Jackson Kuntz, shown with his prized soccer ball.