“A night like tonight is so important,” Ralston told Sheriff’s Office employees and their families gathered at the Sonoraville Recreation Center recently. “The men and women who work in the Sheriff’s Department sacrifice every day to protect this county, and your families sacrifice, too.
“We love what we do, and together, we are moving this county forward,” he said.
Ralston told department members that they are fortunate to have a community that supports them and a county government that stands behind them.
Alvin Long, chairman of the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, thanked the Sheriff’s employees for their service.
“We are proud that we have people like you serving Gordon County,” Long said. “Your Board of Commissioners is willing to help you in any way it can.”
Ralston presented awards and commendations to more than 50 members of the Sheriff’s Department and recognized several members of the Sheriff’s Auxiliary for their volunteer efforts in support of the department.
A note about the awards:
Meritorious Service Award is presented for acts of heroism or bravery that result in the apprehension of a dangerous or violent felon or other meritorious acts that result in the saving of a human life, though not necessarily at the risk of death or great bodily harm to the recipient.
Distinguished Service Award is presented in recognition of at least five years of continuous service whereby a pattern of excellent behavior has been established or other such acts above and beyond that normally expected of the recipient.
General Commendation is present for acts of outstanding enforcement or investigative skill and initiative by the recipient.
Unit Citation is presented for acts of outstanding enforcement or investigative skill by the recipients, as part of a particular unit, division or other formal sub-group of the Sheriff’s Office.
Honorees recognized during the Sheriff’s Department’s Employee Recognition Ceremony and the awards they received:
Maj. Patrick Bedford — Distinguished Service Award.
Deputy Brian Sitten — Meritorious Service Award.
Sgt. Kyle Burkett — Meritorious Service Award.
Deputy Scott Shaw — Meritorious Service Award.
Deputy Bill Soulios, Deputy William Channell, Deputy Brian Crider, Detective Trish Bedford, Deputy Russ Jones, Detective J.L. Johnston, Detective Jamey Kirby and Deputy Chad Phillips — General Commendations.
Capt. Mike Jones, Lt. James P. Snow, Lt. Grady Jolley, SFC Robert Whitlock, SFC Jim Cohen, Mrs. Charmon VanDyke, Sgt. Clifford Daniel and Deputies Chad Phillips, Brian Crider, Kris Roberts, Eric Burns, Russ Jones, Mike Hill and Phil Stowe —Unit Citations.
Deputy Sheriffs Scott Shaw, Danny White, Ginger Daffron, Randy Woolridge, Craig Henson and Dale Pullen and Jail Sgt. Kevin Hernandez — Certificates of Commendation.
Calhoun Police Officer Jason Stansell and Georgia State Trooper Wesley Kerce — special commendations from the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy Sheriff Kevin Rickett — 2009 Deputy of the Year.
Detective Sgt. Shane Parrott — 2009 Detective of the Year.
SFC Robert Whitlock — 2009 Jail Officer of the Year.
Mrs. Charmon VanDyke — 2009 Civilian Employee of the Year.
Ms. Billie Jean Erwin — 2009 Sheriff’s Auxiliary Member of the Year.
Auxiliary President Jerry Brown, Treasurer Max Mashburn and Auxiliary member Donnie Ralston — Distinguished Auxiliary Service Awards.
Brian McClellan, Gordon County Information Technology Director, and Nathan Strickland, Strickland Design — Certificates of Appreciation.
Sheriff Mitch Ralston was presented with an ornamental police baton by his command staff members in recognition of his exemplary leadership.