Local Federal Employees Honored at Luncheon

  • Published
  • By Capt Penny Ripperger
  • Fargo-Moorhead Federal Executive Association
Today local federal employees were honored during the Fargo-Moorhead Federal Executive Association (F-M FEA) Awards Luncheon that took place at the Fargo Holiday Inn.

"This is a time to set aside each year to honor the men and women who serve America's federal, state and local government employees. These individuals were nominated by their supervisors and peers for their excellence in public service," Gail Flom, president of F-M FEA said.

The luncheon honors federal employees in the following categories: Administrative-Operational Support, Professional-Scientific-Technical, Safety-Security, Team Award, Trade-Crafts, Managerial-Supervisory, Heroism-Valor and Law Enforcement.

The winners of each category are then submitted for the culminating 'Civil Servant of the Year' award.

This year, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Jacobson of the 119th Wing, North Dakota Air National Guard received the Civil Servant of the Year award based on his win in the Heroism-Valor category.

"This nominee (Jacobson) demonstrated a great deal of courage and heroism when he found his 10-year old son, Karson, without a pulse," Chief Master Sgt. Paula Johnson, North Dakota National Guard state command chief and event emcee said.

"The doctors attribute the CPR he performed on Karson as one of the reasons for his son's quick recovery."

Constant L. Maninga, human resources assistant with the Fargo Military Entrance Processing Station received the Administrative-Operational Support Award. Maninga is responsible for organizing the Central African Union, a non-profit organization that acclimates Africans living in North Dakota to the American way of life.

Rod Brasel, supervisor of customer service with the U.S. Postal Service received the Managerial-Supervisory Award. Brasel is described as a compassionate and caring individual who has been a supervisor for seven years. One of his notable activities includes his involvement with an organization called 'Twist of Fate,' a group that matches hunters with disabled and handicapped hunters for three-day hunts.

Dan Pihlaja, operations support specialist with the U.S. Post Office received the Safety-Security Award. Pihlaja is responsible for the general training, site safety reviews and hazardous materials handling among other safety related issues.

Gary Keller, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service Investigation received the Law Enforcement Award. He is credited for spending countless hours on multiple key investigations and indicting over 60 defendants involved in a large drug ring.

"In addition to complex investigations, he has been a solid role model for all the agents. He is well respected amongst the law enforcement agencies," Johnson said.

Laurie Whitehead, medical staff coordinator with the Fargo Veterans Affairs Medical Center received the Professional-Scientific-Technical Award for her 32 years of service in the Veterans Health Administration. She was complimented for her positive attitude, high quality work and ability to make complex work processes understandable and enjoyable on an ongoing basis.

Jim Van Hoecke, a Moorhead letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service received the Trade-Crafts Award. Hoecke has been employed with the U.S. Post Office for 17 years and is described as a hard worker who provides extraordinary service to patrons on his route.

This year, the Team Award, which recognizes collaborative efforts combining numerous areas within one organization, was given to the Headquarters, Operations, Medical and Testing Sections of the Fargo Military Entrance Processing Station. The team leader is Maj. Timothy Nutter.

"This team had an enormous impact on the proficiency of their agency. They were able to overcome difficult situations, including personnel shortages and frequent system updates. Without the cross-training, volunteerism and 'can-do' attitude of these individuals and teams, the success of this organization would not have been possible," Johnson said.

FEA is comprised of a diverse group of federal employees, and like the group itself, a large variety of individuals within the community contributed to the success of the luncheon.

Juliana Lesher, VA chaplain gave the invocation and benediction. Mike Moore also from the VA took photos during the event. The local band 'Cat Sank Trio' provided entertainment and as previously stated, Chief Master Sgt. Paula Johnson with the North Dakota National Guard served as the emcee.

In addition, the judges for the initial awards were Fran Brummond, Fargo Air Museum executive director, Adrienne Olson, Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce and Tom Boyer, Cornerstone Bank vice president. Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker selected the Civil Servant of the Year.

For more information about this news release, contact Penny Ripperger at 701-451-2194.