FPUD honors Walker as employee of the year; other awards presented as well

Ginny Walker was honored as the Fallbrook Public Utility District employee of the year for 2012 at FPUD’s Jan. 28 board meeting.

“She’s always got a great attitude,” said FPUD general manager Brian Brady.

The employee of the year is picked from the four employee of the quarter recipients, although the November employee of the quarter is eligible for the following year’s employee of the year award. Walker was selected for the November 2011 employee of the quarter honors. The FPUD employees vote on the employee of the year award.

Walker was hired by FPUD in February 2008 as the district’s accounting/customer services assistant. “She’s the one who processes payroll, so everybody interacts with Ginny,” Brady said.

Walker was nominated for the employee of the quarter award by utility worker Sky Peterson, who noted her positive attitude and her ability to make co-workers happy regardless of how successful their day had been.

Walker was presented with a certificate of appreciation and a $500 check at the FPUD board meeting.

The January board meeting also included the recognition of two groups of FPUD employees who received Manager’s Award recognition.

The Manager’s Award recipients from FPUD’s Customer Service and Accounting department were accountant Paula Clark, customer service specialist Diane Moore, customer service representative Faye Robinson, administrative office specialist Sheri Simmons, and accounting and customer service assistant Ginny Walker.

The field staff Manager’s Award group was comprised of plant maintenance worker Antonio Campos, utility worker Josh Couveau, utility worker Jamison Davis, foreman Kyle Drake, utility technician Todd Golem, utility worker Chris Miller, system operator Mateo Morgan, utility technician Donald Parker, warehouse/purchasing specialist Debra Potter, safety and risk administrator Larry Ragsdale, temporary utility worker Giovanni Santana, backflow/cross-connection technician David Stagg, foreman Steve Stone, and utility worker Austin Wendt.

FPUD administrative services manager Marcie Eilers nominated the Customer Service and Accounting department staff members for Manager’s Award distinction. FPUD operations manager David Horn recommended Manager’s Award commendation for the field staff. Each Manager’s Award recipient receives a letter from FPUD general manager Brian Brady, a certificate, and a $25 check.

The customer service and accounting staff was recommended for their Manager’s Award honors due to their actions resulting from a Dec. 20 accident on Mission Road which deprived the FPUD office of electrical power from approximately 5 a.m. that day to approximately 2 a.m. Dec. 21. During that time all FPUD employees except Clark, Moore, Robinson, and Walker were sent home.

Dec. 20 was a bill payment due date. “The customer service people didn’t want to close down the front, the cashier operation, because it was at the end of the billing cycle when we had a lot of people coming in,” Brady said.

The four remaining employees used a portable Honda generator to operate the cash register while working without the benefit of lights. The accident also severed phone and Internet lines to the FPUD office building, and AT&T did not restore all phone and fax lines to operational status until more than a week later. FPUD has an answering service which is used primarily for service needs outside of business hours; Clark, Moore, Robinson, and Walker worked with the answering service to have calls taken by the answering service and relayed to them. Some of those calls were for major pipeline leaks.

Not only did the customer service and accounting department have the handicap of operating without FPUD’s usual communications equipment, but the department was significantly understaffed due to unexpected absences. “The flu season hit our staff pretty hard,” Brady said.

Clark, Moore, Robinson, Simmons, and Walker worked extra hours to ensure that customer bills were sent, that payroll was completed, and that the office was staffed at all times during regular hours. Robinson gave up her scheduled vacation over the holidays while Moore voluntarily came into the office on her day off. The five employees often arrived in the office at 6 a.m. and stayed as late at 6 p.m. to ensure that tasks were completed.

“They did a heck of a job for about a 2, 2 1/2 week period, Brady said, “They just went above and beyond plus.”

The leaks also caused the field staff to work unexpected hours. “We had some major line breaks,” Brady said.

Emergency repairs due to leaks were needed both on Stone Post Way and on Palomino Road. Campos, Couveau, Davis, Drake, Golem, Miller, Morgan, Parker, Potter, Ragsdale, Santana, Stagg, Stone, and Wendt worked on their days off in response to the leaks. “They either came off vacation or cancelled vacation,” Brady said.

In some cases that involved working around the clock. “Those line breaks required basically working through the night,” Brady said.

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