Photo: Pictured above, Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton (pictured at far left) stands with award recipients at the employee banquet on Friday, September 11.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
On the 19th anniversary of September 11, the Etowah County Sheriff’s office held a banquet for local first responders to honor their unwavering dedication and commitment to the residents of Etowah County.
Employees ranging from 20 years of service to nearly 35 years of service were recognized with a plaque commending their efforts to answer the call of help when it arises.
Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton welcomed honorees, families and attendants to the banquet, preluding the ceremony with a message of patriotism. He noted that he considered himself thankful to be an American, remembering 9/11 as a day that forever changed lives and inspired him to pursue law enforcement.
“That’s why I love this field and this career of first responders, because we are servers,” said Horton. “We’re servants of the people. There’s really a lot of gratification in that, and it’s not always monetary. It doesn’t always pay the best money, but you can lay down at night knowing that you’ve done something to help someone. That’s what we are – we’re servants. We’re helpers to the people. They call us in a time of need.”
Horton noted that among the individuals being recognized, several have served under multiple Etowah County sheriffs. Yet despite the differences in administrations, the honorees continued to fulfill their professions with diligence and remained committed to their tasks.
“The truth is it doesn’t matter who the sheriff is,” said Horton. “When we wear this uniform and we represent this office, we represent our people. Our people are very important. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. As we go through this, [know that] this is not just words. These are not just individuals. So many people have so many experiences and skills that we are very blessed to have that collectively make us what we are today. These are people that care and have put in many years through many administrations lots of hard work.”
Employees with 20 years of service and over were recognized first. Keith Peek (20 years) served as a Corrections Officer, Patrol Deputy, Captain of Detention, Assistant Chief of Corrections and Chief of Corrections since 2000. Jonathan Reeves (21 years) served as a Correctional Officer, Sergeant and Shift Supervisor and SAPP employee, while Gina Walton (21 years) served as a Kitchen Deputy since 1999. Walton was noted for arriving at work at 3 a.m. each morning.
Steven Hooks (22 years) served as a Correctional Officer, Sheriff’s Deputy, Etowah County World Trade Center Disaster Team member, Patrol Deputy, Warrant Deputy and U.S. Marshalls Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force member, Sergeant of Warrants (Judicial, Court and Civil) and an Investigator. Kevin Hassell (22 years) was recognized for his efforts as a Corrections Officer, Patrol, DEU and Deputy Commander of DEU. Janice Ash (23 years) served as an Administrative Clerk and Accounting Technician. Ash is the two-time recipient of Administrative Employee of the Year for 2010 and 2011.
Anita Gregory (23 years) was recognized for her service as Etowah County Tags and Titles worker, Redemption and Property Tax Clerk, SO Pistol Permits and Administrative Assistant. Scott Dillard (23 years) was hired as a Corrections Officer, Inmate Disciplinary Chairperson, Transportation Supervisor and currently works as a Detention Center Admin, Compliance Staff and ICE agent.
Paul Williams (23 years) worked as a Corrections Officer, Patrol Deputy, Investigator, Patrol Sergeant and Patrol Captain, while Lucas Hallmark (23 years) served as a heavy equipment operator for Etowah County, Sheriff’s Deputy, SRO at Carlisle, Whitesboro, Sardis Middle and Sardis High School and Sergeant of SRO Division.
Darron Walker (23 years) served as a Corrections Officer, Police Academy graduate and Investigations worker, Narcotics and Chief of Investigations. Bob Vosbury (23 years) was a Corrections Officer, Deputy Sheriff, Investigator, EC Drug and Major Crimes Task Force member, Sergeant in Patrol and Captain in Patrol. Leslie Reneman (24 years) worked in Dispatch and Pistol Permits, Dispatch. Reneman was awarded Dispatcher of the year in 2011 and served as Administrative Coordinator in 2014.
Keba Hollis received special recognition as the banquet transitioned into awarding employees with over 25 years of service. Hollis (26 years) served as a Correctional Officer, Sergeant and Captain since 1991. Teresa Veasy (27 years) served as a Corrections Officer and worked in Central Control in 1993. Veasy was the first officer to open the new visitation site, and in 2010 served as Commissary Coordinator.
Glenn Cline was awarded for 30 years of service as a Corrections Officer, Deputy of Animal Control and School Resource Officer. Though Cline retired in 2015, he now serves as Judicial Security. Lanny Handy (33 years) was recognized for his service that began in 1975. Since then, he worked as an Etowah Sheriff’s Deputy, Correctional Deputy, Recreational Officer and DARE officer, Sergeant and Supervisor of SROs and SRO Practitioner (National Association School Resource Officers). Though Handy retired in 2015, he returned in 2017 as Courthouse Security.
Woody Johnson was awarded for 33 years of service in the Etowah Road Department, as a heavy equipment operator, Correctional Officer, Sheriff’s Deputy, Commander of Crime Task Force member, Drug Enforcement Unit and Commander of DEU.
At 34 years of commitment to Etowah County, Janet Daniel earned the final award of the banquet. Since 1986, Daniel served as a Correctional Officer, Supervisor of Corrections and Supervisor of Inmate Workers. Her favorite aspect of her job remains helping others and giving advice to inmates and her coworkers, who describe her as helpful, honest, dedicated, kind and loving.
Sheriff Horton concluded the banquet with a few closing words signifying the importance of the employees honored for their diligence towards the betterment of Etowah County.
“This is about our employees,” he said. “Our employees are who represent us. That’s what sometimes people see the sheriff’s office as – the people who wear the uniform and answer the call, the people that take care of inmates, the people they see when they come to visitation. I couldn’t be prouder of a group of people. It’s so important to me the people who are in this room, because you cannot buy experience. There’s nothing like trial and error and these people who worked for several different administrations have never hesitated [to help] even when I have a lot of questions as a new sheriff. They have that experience, and they’ve given me advice and helped me in many areas. That’s invaluable, that’s priceless, because good people are what makes good organizations – and we’ve got great people.”
The sheriff’s office intends to hold a banquet honoring its employees every year.