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Deer Ridge prison counselor 'Employee of Year'

SALEM, Ore. - Recently, employees, volunteers, and contractors of the Oregon Department of Corrections were recognized for their outstanding work in supporting the agency's mission.

The annual statewide awards ceremony was held on Tuesday, May 13, to honor these individuals as part of National Correctional Officers and Employees Week (NCEW). Some of the award recipients are as follows.

* DOC Employee of the Year - Meredith Allen, Deer Ridge Correctional Institution Release Counselor, recognized for consistently excelling in dedication, innovation, leadership, mentoring, performance, professionalism, role modeling, and teamwork.

* DOC Manager of the Year - Dennis Holmes, Religious Services Administrator, recognized for his vision, drive, skills, and commitment to lead his team in accomplishing the mission of his unit and the mission of the department.

* Director's Award - Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution Food Services Unit, recognized for representing the highest values of the department internally, and to the surrounding community. In addition to serving quality food and demonstrating budgetary accountability, EOCI Food Services is an invaluable asset to the overall operations of the institution.

* Director's Award - Oregon State Correctional Institution Relay for Life Team, recognized for their determination, dedication, and desire to save lives and their unyielding commitment to raising cancer awareness. They have raised more than $25,000 for cancer awareness over the past three years.

* Director's Award - Tami Garner, Snake River Correctional Institution Offender Information and Sentence Computation Support Specialist, recognized not just because of her great attitude and being a team player, but because of her extra efforts for the good of staff and their families. This includes her efforts to organize mobile mammogram screenings at SRCI since November 2012.

* Director's Award - Chad Naugle, Statewide Sustainability Coordinator, recognized for enthusiastically taking on his responsibility of promoting sustainability with vigor and incredible results. His efforts at enhancing the DOC recycling program led to the department recently being named the Marion County Recycler of the Year, amongst many advancements in this area.

* Contractor of the Year - Linnell Rantapaa, Chemeketa Community College Literacy Specialist, recognized for working tirelessly to keep DOC education systems up to date and effective for our adults in custody, and for being a staunch advocate for DOC and corrections education programs.

* Outstanding Unit Award - Budget Staff, recognized for successfully implementing the impacts of House Bill 3194 with its political complexity, wide array of stakeholders, and every potential element of the legislation having a different fiscal impact.

* Outstanding Citizen - Paul Solomon, Sponsors, Inc., recognized for his dedication to positive systemic change in the criminal justice system, and strong beliefs in promoting public safety by removing barriers to re-entry and fostering access to housing, employment, and education for people with criminal histories.

* Outstanding Citizen - Gretchen Vala, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), recognized for her spirit of collaboration and building positive relationships and strong connections within DOC. She has helped build bridges between the department and the friends and families of those incarcerated.

* Outstanding Citizen - Dick Withnell, Governor's Re-Entry Council Member, recognized for his hands-on work and philanthropy in the areas of transition and re-entry. He is a strong re-entry advocate, championing many issues related to youth and mentorship, as well as supporting Oregon's community corrections initiatives and public safety endeavors.

* Outstanding Volunteer - Mike Niemeyer, Facilitated Dialogue Program Advisory Committee Member, recognized for his commitment, dedication, and desire to help victims and those in custody, and his sincere spirit of volunteerism. Mike identifies challenges and provides guidance and wisdom on how to engage--always putting the interests of the victim/survivor at the forefront.

* Max Williams Award - Nathan Allen, Planning and Budget Administrator, recognized for serving exceptionally well in his regular work assignment and displaying outstanding leadership qualities in areas of mentorship, team building, and personal/professional integrity.

Each award winner was presented with a plaque and certificate at the awards ceremony. They were praised for going above and beyond, improving outcomes, and serving as role models for both inmates and other staff members. For a complete list of winners, see the DOC webpage at .

In his proclamation of NCEW, Governor Kitzhaber commended adult and juvenile correctional workers for "holding offenders accountable for their actions and reducing the risk of future criminal behavior and future victimization."

DOC employs 4,500 staff members at 14 institutions, two community corrections offices, and several centralized support facilities throughout the state. The agency is responsible for the care and custody of more than 14,600 adults sentenced to more than 12 months of incarceration, and direct or indirect supervision of 31,000 offenders on felony supervision in the community. DOC is recognized nationally among correctional agencies for providing adults in custody with the cognitive, education, and job skills needed to become productive citizens when they transition back to their communities.

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