"It's a great day Eastern Utah," began Diane Russell, director of the governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities at their annual awards luncheon Wednesday at the Price Elk's Club. Russell told the large audience that this was the 30 years the awards have been given, starting out in Salt Lake city in 1974. Kevin Cammack served as Master of Ceremonies while guest speaker was Jeri Hamilton, loan officer with Eastern Utah Community Credit Union. Hamilton explained the importance of fostering business relationships within the community. Presenting the awards were Michael Milovich, county commissioner and Blaine Petersen, executive director of Utah State Office of Rehabilitation.
Jordan W. Hatch, CEU Instructor
The ACE award recognizes an outstanding company or individual who uses an innovative approach or concept to employ, train, or accommodate people with disabilities.
Jordan Hatch is the instructor for the College of Eastern Utah's CDL and Heavy Equipment training. Cammack said, "He is a dedicated and hard working instructor. Jordan's philosophy is that anyone can do anything if they just put the time and effort into learning how to do it and how to do it well. He is the kind of person and instructor that does not see the disability of an individual but truly looks beyond at the person and what they can become.
Jordan devotes a great deal of time to student advisement, and is very available and accessible to students."
Many of Hatch's students have physical problems, learning disabilities, or drug problems. But he has kept his academic program flexible in order to accommodate the needs of his students so they can succeed.
Hatch works closely with Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Workforce Services to recruit students and maintain good working relationships with employers in the region.
Miles Nelson, the Southeast ATC campus president states, "I believe that Jordan is an ACE in our community and that he, as an individual, has significantly contributed to the employment and/or empowerment of people with disabilities."
Nick Tatton, Price City
The second ACE recipient was Nick Tatton. A native to Price, Tatton followed in his father and grandfather's footsteps by becoming an entrepreneurial mentor for people with disabilities. Tatton is the former Director of the Small Business Development Center in the Price Region. Using innovative approaches, applying his noteworthy skills and local knowledge he assisted potential small business owners with disabilities to reach their business and financial goals.
He organized, advertised and taught numerous small business development classes tailored for Vocational Rehabilitation clients then went the extra mile by spending one-on-one time providing training and assistance in the development of a formal business plan.
Not only has Tatton made a positive impact at the local level he drew national acclaim for creating a small business development fund. This project was noted for it's ability to create jobs at a fraction of the cost of the national average. Through this fund and his creation of a Downtown Revitalization plan, Nick has helped create hundreds of jobs where the retention rate is over 90 percent.
There are many success stories to Nick's credit. Terry Wheeler desired to open a small business and become financially independent. With Nick's help Terry achieved success as he is the owner/operator of Sun Bonnet Signals and Hobby Shop located in downtown Price. Terry received the Golden Key Citizen of the Year award in 2002.
Service Provider of the Year
Ross Huntington, Emery County School District
This award recognizes a community service provider for outstanding and innovative efforts that have contributed to the employment and/or empowerment of people with disabilities.
Ross Huntington, the Business Administrator for Emery County School District believes in providing people with disabilities opportunities to build their skills so they can achieve successful employment and become independent. Over the past year Huntington has worked with Vocational Rehabilitation to place their clients in various positions in the district. Two of the individuals placed with the district were able to work in positions that gave them skill building and exposure to a very positive learning atmosphere. Most importantly this chance helped both individuals gain the self-esteem they will need to be successful in whatever they choose to do.
Katie Duncan, who had an opportunity to explore jobs within the district states, "I was looking for a job this last fall but hadn't found one yet. Because of an opportunity to work as a volunteer aid helping teachers and students, I was hired. I listen to students read, make copies of booklets, correct assignments among other duties. In helping the students become better readers, I have also become a better reader."
Julie Duncan, teacher, states, "Because of the support from Principal, Brian Dawes, Ross Huntington, and Vocational Rehabilitation, Katie was able to have a work experience that has made a difference in her life. She wakes up in the morning with a purpose.
Service Provider of the Year
Greg Ferderber, CEU Mining Department
Greg Ferderber, Chairman of the CEU Mining Department has been affiliated with CEU for the past 16 years. He has sustained and perpetuated the Mining Department's commitment to serve persons with disabilities. Many of the training programs have been developed in conjunction with the regional Vocational Rehabilitation office. Programs such as heavy equipment and trucking, electronics, diesel mechanic, a coal mining program for persons with disabilities, a project to train VR clients to work for BHP Copper Mine as well as other programs have led to self sufficiency for hundreds of VR clients.
Richard Robinson, retired from CEU states, "I continue to monitor the activities of the mining department and find that they represent the highest level of service in response to needs, personal interest and care, and a willingness to expand and adapt beyond the confines often seen in institutions of higher learning. The list of services the mining department has provided to meet specific training needs of vocational rehabilitation clients is long and the impact on the lives of those touched has been great."
Employer of the Year
Stella's Kitchen, Rod and Patty Wadley, owners
This award bestows recognition on employers for outstanding contributions and practices that improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This year Stella's Kitchen and Wendy's of Price were both honored.
Stella's is not a large corporation. They are a small family run business with limited resources. Even when times have been hard Rod and Patty Wadley have continued their employment of people with disabilities.
Three years ago Rod and Patty hired a young man diagnosed with mild mental retardation and mental illness. During these last three years, they have demonstrated a sincere and concerted effort to help him succeed in his job. This effort includes: attending team meetings, encouraging him to strive for quality job performance, focusing on what he is capable of rather than his disability, setting goals with him for future growth and promotion, and working with his support systems to ensure his success. They have also invested in equipment to help him perform his job duties more efficiently. Thanks to these efforts this person has been successfully employed for three years and continues to work toward broadening his job skill development.
Employer of the Year
Wendy's of Price, Andrea Hall, Manager
Hall is a manager that goes out of her way to work with her employees. Her idea of a good employer is to help her employees succeed in the working world and believes that sometimes it is necessary to give an employee the benefit of a doubt and allow them a chance to grow and develop into productive employees. Hall looks beyond an employee's disability and feels if a person can perform the job they should be hired. She has the skills and patience to teach her employees until they are able to do the job they are assigned.
On a weekly basis Hall meets with her managers and during those meetings they discuss what is needed to supervise employees that may be having difficulties. From the ideas that have been suggested the managers provide positive supervision and encouragement which leads to trust and a good working environment. One employee states, "Hall gave me a chance and compliments me on what good work I do."
Wendy's works very closely with vocational rehabilitation to insure that the individual placed at their business will succeed. Sometimes placements work, sometimes they don't but not as a consequence of a lack of Wendy's commitment.
Another employee states, "I have had a hard time with illness the last several months but Andrea was more than happy to give me time off to build myself up and then told me she was going to work with me to help me achieve the night manager's position. I don't know of an employer anywhere that deserves this recognition more than Wendy's and Andrea Hall."
Citizen of the Year
William C. Coleman, Carbon School District
The Citizen of the Year Award is the highest honor bestowed on a Utahan with a disability and is based on noteworthy contributions and outstanding and significant achievements in the world of work.
William C. Coleman, Billy as he likes to be called is a hard working school custodian, a position he has held for 17 years. He is always busy cleaning and doing things that make the Castle Valley Center shine for those who visit and work there each day. Coleman interacts with the students and is an excellent role model as to how a person should work. He takes safety as an important part of his duties and is always looking for ways to make the work environment safe.
As a result of an injury at birth, he has moderate learning disabilities and epilepsy. Coleman grew up in Helper and attended public schools. One of his early elementary school teaches states that she considers him to be one of her most successful students in over 42 years of teaching. He never complained or gave up with his studies even though school was very difficult for him. He worked hard and had a good attitude.
Coleman has taken what he was given, which some say is less than most people have, and made a success of his life. For many years he lived on his own.
Despite the many challenges he faces every day, he puts a smile on his face and takes on each responsibility with full commitment. He walks two miles to work most days, is always on time, and seldom takes vacation. Said Cammack, "The most amazing thing about Coleman is his sense of humor. Many people tend to look for worries and complaints. Not Billy. He looks around finding ways to make people laugh and enjoy the lighter side of life. Billy is compassionate, kind, dependable and above all loyal to all those who come in contact with him."
Coleman has planted a rose garden close to the entrance of the Castle Valley Center and takes great pride in weeding and trimming his roses each year; the same kind of pride he takes, not only in his work, but in his friendships. "We need more Billy's in this world, people who work hard, overcome adversity and keep going no matter how hard things seem at times," concluded Cammack.