By Tony E. Windsor

In new business from the Tuesday, Jan. 19 meeting of Laurel Mayor and Council, Town Manager Jamie Smith introduced a proposal to begin an employee recognition project. Smith said given the traditional event held by the police department to honor its officers, she would like to do something that would also recognize employees on the administrative side of town operations.

Preliminarily, Smith said the initiative would recognize employees on the anniversary of their hire date with a certificate. If it is a “milestone” anniversary, she said there may be additional recognition such as a plaque. Details have not completely been addressed, she said.

Smith said the employees being recognized would be invited to attend the public meeting of Mayor and Council to be honored. For January, she said two employees are being recognized: Susan Carmine, who is celebrating two years with the town and works in the administrative office in the billing department and Renea Ford, a clerk in the Alderman’s Court, who is celebrating three years of employment.

“I want to recognize these two employees for their service. They have been a huge asset to the town and we appreciate all that they do,” Smith said.

Laurel Alderman Judge Kelly Pettyjohn, who attends the Mayor and Council meetings as part of monthly department head reports, said because Ford is being recognized this month, she wished to express her personal appreciation.

“We are a small department, so Renea has to handle a great deal of work and the seat she fills is very difficult,” she said. “We have many clients who are just wonderful and a pleasure to deal with, but we also get the brunt of frustration from people who were not able to express that with the police officer when they were pulled off to the side of the road. They typically find the courage to express their frustrations with us and that of course comes directly to Renea. I want to thank her because sometimes you are forced to hear things that are hard to hear and you have to have a thick skin to do this job. I want to thank Renea for all she does.”

Smith said in an effort to show appreciation for employees, throughout the year the town makes it a point to host a luncheon inviting all staff to attend. She said the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily put the luncheons on hold.

Councilwoman Cheryl Martin said she would recommend that in the future, the luncheons be held for administrative town employees, and continue to use the annual police awards ceremony to honor the police officers.

“The annual police banquet is important because these officers lay their lives on the line every day in service to our community and they should be recognized,” she said. “However, I feel that a luncheon is also important to recognize all of our other employees, so they know how much we appreciate their service as well. I recommend we keep these two events separate to ensure all of our employees know how much we appreciate their service.”

Councilwoman Robin Fisher agreed with Martin, and suggested that an annual employee family picnic could be held to allow employees to bring their families to an event that would recognize their service to the town.

Smith said she will take all the input given by council and work to develop a recognition program that will be beneficial for all employees.