Gene’s Corner by Gene Haselmann

When I first came to work for Commissioner Rettman, I was sad because I was leaving behind friends and co-workers of 32 years. Dedicated, hard working, friends that I had worked with at the Minnesota Department of Economic Security and that I believed were the best ever. When I retired in July, from the State, I doubted that I would ever enjoy such camaraderie ever again….

On January 13, the 1997 Ramsey County Employee Recognition Luncheon was held. This luncheon honors long-term employees that retired in 1997 as well as employees with 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of public service and the most important honorees—the Achievement Award winners. There were 9 individual Achievement Award winners, and 2 Group Award winners for 1997. Throughout the year, employees are nominated for achievement awards by their peers. Winners are chosen by the Achievement Award Selection Committee according to a criteria set by the Board. The theme for this year’s Award Program was the song "I Believe I Can fly" from the Movie "Space Jam" (chosen by Karen Tero).

I believe that the overall theme was expressed best in the Close Up newsletter of January:

Following their hearts, knowing there was something they could do to make things better, Ramsey County’s 1997 Achievement Award winners took on special tasks or just approached their daily work with extra dedication and ingenuity, and the results were "soaringly" good.

A "Bio" of each of the Award winners was put to the musical theme and into a video presentation. Award winners Cynthia Melby and Mary Jean Patraw were seated with Commissioner Rettman and me. As reported in Close-Up, Cynthia shows outstanding leadership skills in her role as Senior Legal Secretary in the County Attorney’s Office. Along with her heavy workload, Cynthia is a lead worker to a group of approximately ten staff members. As a child, Cynthia greatly admired a neighbor who was a legal secretary. When it came time for her to go to work, she recalled this memory and decided to see if that profession would work for her. So far, it seems to be working extremely well.

Mary Jean also works in the County Attorney’s Office—Child Support and Collections Division—and has exceeded normal expectations for her job by producing large amounts of work in a timely and accurate fashion. Jean took the initiative to assume 80-90% of the duties of a co-worker who was on an extended medical leave. As a child, she was encouraged to be anything she wanted to be. She doesn’t remember dreaming of becoming a secretary; but, is very happy with her job and loves giving it her very best efforts, enthusiasm, and dedication. Her colleagues all agree that she certainly does.

The lunch time was short, so Janice and I did not have the opportunity to meet all those recognized. Cynthia and Jean are examples of hard working employees that are found within the public sector. I left behind some wonderful co-workers but the County seems to have an abundant supply of dedicated public employees that I am now proud to be a part of. I think of my former co-workers as golden and the new as silver—I believe that’s an old camp song: "Meet new friends but keep the old. First our silver and the others are gold." I think I’m beginning to understand that camp song: you can find precious friendships in the past and present. Or what I would revamp to: There are dedicated public employees everywhere and that they are as precious as silver and gold. So thank you Janice for inviting me to work here with a great group of employees.

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