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Northeast Times | August 14, 2022

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City of Southlake Celebrates Employee Appreciation Week 2019

City of Southlake Celebrates Employee Appreciation Week 2019

The City of Southlake is celebrating Employee Appreciation Week 2019! It’s a celebration to honor those who have gone above and beyond to assist residents and other staff while serving at the City. This year’s theme is “Baseball!”

Several employees received the following awards for their outstanding performance: Director’s Award­­­­ – a prestigious recognition award that honors employees making a world-class difference every day. The Spirit of Southlake Award – is a brand new award this year, this award honors an employee who exemplifies the Southlake Way every day by being an outstanding employee as well as a team player. The Kristin Pitzinger Customer Service Award – this award is named after the late City employee Kristin Pitzinger, this award honors the employee who exemplifies outstanding customer service. The Southlake Value Awards– these awards recognize employees who exemplify the City values of integrity, innovation, accountability, excellence and teamwork. The City also recognized employees who have served tenure ranging from 5 to 35 years of service. Check out their stories of dedication and service to the City of Southlake and residents.

Directors Award recipients include:  

Michelle Sunday is the Human Resources Generalist and is the recipient of the Administration Director’s Award. Michelle has worked with the City for more than 11 years. “In that time she truly became the technical expert when it comes to all things HR, payroll, workman’s comp, FMLA Leave and insurance benefits; she is the go-to person when employees need assistance,” said Human Resources Director Stacey Black.  Michelle has processed more than 500 weekly and bi-weekly regular and fire payroll with no errors. “She has a high level of personal accountability for everything she does, her integrity is bar none,” said Black. Michelle works very close with employees when they are going through difficult life experiences and serves as their guide to file the proper paperwork. “What could be cumbersome insurance work becomes a breeze, she does all the hard work and the employees do not have to worry,” said Black. “What makes Michelle special is that she knows that behind each name is a person, a person who is a member of our team.”

Community Services
Parks Supervisor Shane Cloud is the recipient for the Community Services Director’s Award.  Shane was selected because of his consistency in taking care of business the Southlake Way. “He is the go-to guy that’s always willing to go the extra mile, wanting to get it done efficiently and right the first time,” said Director of Community Services Chris Tribble. “Rather it is a special event, making sure contractors are meeting the City’s expectations or making sure our parks remain the envy of the Metroplex, Shane can always be counted on.” Shane has been a member of the Southlake team since 2000 and takes great pride in his team’s work. “I am proud of him because he worked his way up in this organization,” said Tribble, “Our team knows that they can count on Shane to support them and get the job done.”

Dana Falk is the recipient of the Finance Director’s Award. Dana is the Court Clerk for Teen Court and makes sure everything processes efficiently.  “Dana is very meticulous, she has Teen Court running like a well-oiled machine, she has a knack with identifying gaps and sealing them as she finds them and more importantly Teen Court is running so smoothly to the point on Tuesday evening there is no worry about whether or not things will go well,” said Chief Financial Officer Sharon Jackson. One of Dana’s biggest strengths is that she empathizes with the teens. “She will go above and beyond to assist them to make sure that they can be successful and she just really connects with the participants in the program,” said Jackson.  She is also known for having a great personality and a great sense of humor.  Her commitment to excellence exemplifies the City’s values. It’s not just a job for her, she really makes sure the participants learn from their issues and makes sure it sets them up for success. She will assist teens who have had a tough time with community service, she goes out of her way and makes sure she finds a location that works well for them.

Fire Lieutenant KJ Van Natta is the recipient of the Fire Department Director’s Award. He installs radios and is a part of the TIFMAS response group and the Apparatus Committee. He inspects all the electrical equipment on new fire trucks, radios and more.  “For years, KJ has gone above and beyond for the Fire Department,” said Fire Chief Mike Starr. “He ensures that we are always up to date on our equipment having the latest and greatest.” Although KJ has exemplified all the City’s values, he is mostly recognized for his level of accountability and his commitment to excellence which he shows on a daily bases. “He is always willing to help,” said Chief Starr. “He saved the City money just in the work he is doing for us and the value he brings to our Department is huge.”  “Part of being a Fireman is ensuring that we provide good quality service so when are out and about in the public, we want to make sure we are giving the customers everything they need,” he continues, “KJ comes to work with a great attitude and is always willing to help, he is a great asset to the City.”  

Detective Thomas Roberson is the recipient of the Police Department Director’s Award.  Detective Roberson goes out of his way to help solve crimes and keep our citizens safe. During 2018, Detective Roberson’s work and attitude served as a great example while he worked both property and persons crimes.  Detective Roberson stood out amongst his peers in many areas, one of which was teamwork. He volunteered for tasks assisting his co-workers in completing evidence submission, report supplements and assisting in interviews in order to help his co-workers bring their cases to a successful conclusion. “He’s known for his dedication, he comes to work every day and gives the citizens of Southlake his all and does it a manner that is quiet and expects nothing in return for it,” said Police Chief James Brandon.

Public Works
Jason Arellano is an Equipment Operator for Public Works and is the recipient of the Public works Director’s Award.  Jason exemplifies the core values and takes ownership of everything he does and he desires to provide an excellent level of customer service. He is qualified in water and wastewater which allows the City to do a tremendous amount of work with him in different divisions.  “Jason’s significant strength is two-fold, one is his ability to get qualified in not only water and wastewater, but also his desire to work as a team member; rather he is called to water or wastewater he will provide that level of service to the best of his ability and provide a level of service that is characteristic of what we expect and demand of our employees,” said Director of Public Works Rob Cohen. “He has become a champion of safety and sets the example for his co-workers,” said Cohen. “He is truly an asset for both the department and the City.”

Planning & Development Services
Ernie Aguilar is a Code Enforcement Officer and is the recipient for the Planning and Development Services Director’s Award. Ernie was selected as the recipient because of his strong work ethic and his can-do attitude. He is known for his stellar customer service and his works to find win-win solutions. “He looks for ways to meet the customer’s needs by working within the framework of the City’s ordinances and codes,” said Senior Director of Planning and Development Services Ken Baker.  “Ernie represents the Planning and Development Services Department well; he’s always willing to collaborate and seeks non-traditional ways to solve problems; he is also very creative and innovative; he looks at solutions first and creative ways to solving the problem,” said Baker.

Spirit of Southlake Award:
Jose Rodriguez is a Parks Technician and is the recipient of the Spirit of Southlake Award. Jose is respected for his hard work and generosity. “His work ethic stands out and every supervisor is a witness to it,” said Community Services Director Chris Tribble. Every park worker has enjoyed breakfast treats that Jose brings during the week. He goes beyond all expectations and purchases cakes for his crew members on their birthday. He goes above and beyond in every way, and he becomes more than a team player, he becomes a friend.

Kristin Pitzinger Customer Service Award:
Dylan Welch is a Banquet Captain at Legends Hall at The Marq Southlake and is the recipient of the Kristin Pitzinger Customer Service Award. Dylan is known for his fantastic job exemplifying the Southlake Way by doing his best to accommodate and make every client happy at Legends Hall for the past three years. “He has been so impressive that many of our clients and internal customers request Dylan at their event,” said Director of Community Services Chris Tribble.  Dylan has received several commendations from clients emailing the manager or leaving comments from client surveys.  Dylan has exceeded the City’s expectations as a Banquet Captain and has created many relationships within the community and many returning guests. “Dylan is a true asset to the City of Southlake, he is always happy to help and ensure the customer receives the best experience,” said Tribble.

Values Awards
Mike White is the Building and Operations Manager and is the recipient of the Integrity Values Award. Part of the definition of Integrity is “Being worthy of the public’s trust in all things.” Mike demonstrates this every day through his daily work. He takes the trust of the public very seriously and consistently does the right thing when no one is looking.  For example, when he received a customer complaint earlier this year, he took initiative to look beyond the surface of the complaint to determine what the underlying issue was; because of his strong commitment to the value of integrity, he dug deeper and discovered a significantly larger issue. Mike is also known for going above and beyond.  He completes inspections after hours and reports to work on the weekends to handle emergencies. “He also steps in when we are short staffed, meaning that he will go in and do a building inspection and electrical inspection or a gas test inspection,” said Senior Director of Planning and Development Ken Baker.  Mike is also known to follow up with customers quickly and address complaints.

Innovation: Officer Brad Uptmore – Officer Uptmore works as the Public Information Officer for the Southlake Police Department and is the recipient of the Innovation Award.  He has assumed the responsibility of DPS communication this past year, and during that time the City has seen a significant increase in the amount of positive attention because of his innovative and creative use of social media. Several of his posts have gone viral and have garnered positive media attention; however, it has all been accomplished with an underlying strategic focus.  “When we brought Brad to this position, one of the things we wanted was to be engaging with the public,” said Police Chief James Brandon.   From March of 2018 up until now, the department has experienced a dramatic increase of followers on all of their social media channels. “All of that is geared toward the public safety message so all of those things that he does and all the entertaining ways that he comes up with to communicate that message, is done in a manner that we want to keep people safe,”  said Police Chief Brandon.

Accountability: Veronica Lomas is the Records Manager for the City Secretary’s Office and is the recipient of the Accountability Award. Veronica constantly keeps the taxpayer in mind while looking for creative ways to streamline processes. “She does her best to make sure she gets her projects done, she loves to work with others and help them with their projects,” said City Secretary Amy Shelley. Veronica recently won a Run Smarter Award with Laserfiche,  a software that has drastically reduced the time needed to fill open records request (FOIA). By maintaining the documents online, staff is able to quickly direct requestors to the website and assist them with obtaining the information they are seeking in a timelier manner. The software has also played a significant role within the organization fostering transparency by providing access to public documents for customers, and more importantly Southlake’s residents. “She loves what she does and customer service comes easy for her,” said Shelley.

Excellence: Missy Saunders is the Graphic Designer in the Office of Marketing and Communication and is the recipient of the Excellence Award. Missy brings perspective and focus to her work and she takes time and care to ensure that her idea of excellence is also aligned with what the customer needs. “We say in the City a short way to remember a commitment to excellence is going above and beyond and that’s what I see from her every day and she does that with such a great attitude,” said Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski.  Missy’s approach to her work is bringing a level of quality to the work, but also doing it in such a way that when people get done working with her they feel great not only by their experience but about what they have gotten. “Her biggest strength is that she is flexible, she approaches every job that she is working on not with a firm idea of how the end product is gonna be because she does not know what that is until she hears from what the customer wants,” said Ortowski. “The level of flexibility of what she brings to her work is great because it allows the creativity to bloom more.”

Teamwork: Lindy Calzada is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Human Resources Department and is the recipient of the Teamwork Award. “She was selected for the teamwork award because she really is the face of Volunteer Southlake,” said Director of Human Resources Stacey Black. Lindy has quickly and positively impacted the Volunteer Southlake community partly due to her dedication to teamwork. “The teamwork comes in because she works so closely with the liaisons across the departments to find that right opportunity for the volunteers so that everyone can find success and success with the program,” said Black. She not only assists many individual volunteers but also department liaisons, city partners such as Call-A-Ride Southlake, and community groups such as NCL, YMSL and SASO. Her priority is to always ensure our volunteers and patrons are cared for and have what they need.