SDAO Awards Program

What is the SDAO Awards Program?
    The Special Districts Association of Oregon’s Awards Program gives recognition to member districts for accomplishments which allow them to provide better service to the public and honors individuals who have greatly contributed to the success of their organization. These awards celebrate the ingenuity, creativity, and diversity of our members. Within this program are two special recognition awards; the Outstanding Special District Program award, and the Outstanding Special District Service award. Winning either award is the highest level of professional acknowledgment within the realm of local government today. 

Awards flyer will be available in early 2018.

Outstanding Special District Service Award Videos

2016-2017 Outstanding Special District Service Award Recipients

Outstanding Special District Service Award: Board Member

  Joanne Cornelius, Falcon-Cove Beach Water District
Joanne Cornelius has served the community of Falcon-Cove Beach for over 25 years as a board member for the Falcon-Cove Beach Water District. She served as President of the board for 16 years. During this time, she inspired and maintained a well-organized and smooth function board responsible for providing the domestic and fire protection water systems for a community of nearly 100 residences.

Shortly after celebrating her 80th birthday, Joanne resigned from the board. She agreed to remain close and impart her experience and historical knowledge to the new Board President as well as the other commissioners. Joanne also
volunteered to help upgrade the district’s computer software systems. 

Joanne is a wealth of knowledge on the Oregon Coast because of her  continued interest and dedicated involvement in the community. This includes weekend events, art shows, theaters, community fundraisers, farmers’ markets, land conservancy, and more.

Outstanding Special District Service Award: Manager
  Elizabeth Heckathorn, Jefferson County Emergency Medical Service District
Elizabeth (Liz) Heckathorn’s commitment and affiliation with Jefferson County EMS District (JCEMSD) began in October 1995 when she moved to Central Oregon. In 2013, Liz accepted the position as Chief for JCEMSD following what
can only be described as a difficult and sad time for JCEMSD following the traumatic death of the District Chief.

As Chief, Liz’s priority was to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and gain insight into the district's needs as well as the needs of the community. She developed a business plan for the district including a staffing
succession plan, an apparatus replacement plan, and updating the district budget and payroll process. Liz convinced the board to remodel the station and ensure a workplace that was safe, functional, and healthy. The remodel took almost an entire year and $80,000, but the district sleeping quarters are functional and safe, a lobby was added to ensure an apparatus bay that is secure, and the station now meets OSHA and fire code standards.

Liz initiated the use of electronic medical records and electronic billing for JCEMSD which has saved time, money, and now provides the district with the ability to pull reports for statistics and metrics. She also did a study on wage equity and was able to increase the wages for staff to a living wage as well as bring on additional staff to share the workload.

In addition to her work at JCEMSD, Liz is also heavily involved in the community. She serves on various boards, committees, and task forces as well as volunteers her time to teach Boy Scouts and young babysitters the basics of first aid and CPR.

Outstanding Special District Service Award: Employee
  Michael Lepin, Jefferson County Emergency Medical Service District
Michael Lepin is the Assistant  Chief for Jefferson County EMS District (JCEMSD). He has been with the district for 14 years. In that time, Michael has continually demonstrated loyalty to the district both during working hours and
off-hours. He has a long list of accomplishments but most notably has set up an American Heart Association training site, obtained a grant to purchase a ventilator for the district’s ambulance, obtained a grant to purchase AED trainers,
created maps for Jefferson County to improve address location for ambulance crews, created a Quality Assurance Performance Improvement Strategic Plan, created permanent Landing Zone locations with pictures and GPS
coordinates, and obtained soft body armor that was retired to increase protection for crews. In addition, Michael held the district and crews together during the sudden loss of their Chief.

Currently, Michael is working on a local Rotary-Cherry Tree grant. This grant would be used to purchase more advanced airway equipment to improve patient survivability. He is also working on a FEMA-AFG grant to purchase loading devices for stretchers and improve crew safety.

Michael is also heavily involved  in his community. He serves as a reserve deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, provides medic coverage during the serving of high risk warrants and CODE Team raids, provides water rescue services during summer months, serves on the area and state Trauma Advisory Boards, and teaches for Central Oregon Community College.

Outstanding Special District Service Award: Volunteer
  Steve Rhodes, Lookingglass Rural Fire District
Since 2009, Steve Rhodes has volunteered for Lookingglass Rural Fire District both as a firefighter and most recently as the Fire Chief. He has contributed greatly to the district in the past eight years with district governance, budget, safety, and the Explorer Program. Steve participated  and assisted with the creation of the District Operations Manual and is the primary business contact for daily operations including insurance, workers’ compensation, and fire

Steve has created the last four district budgets keeping up with current Department of Revenue budget rules and administered implementation of the budgets. He successfully attained VFA/ODF fire equipment grants resulting in a savings of over $20,000 of district taxpayer money. Steve also continues to maintain and reduce the ISO Public Property Classification for local residents by completing new fire hydrant installation and purchasing ISO required equipment and vehicles. He has also done a lot of work to ensure OR-OSHA and NFPA compliance. 

Steve has managed and implemented the Lookingglass Fire Explorer Post 667 as an advisor and trainer. He has used this program not only to develop young men and women but as an answer to the nationwide problem of volunteer firefighter retention. Explorers are taught to NFPA Firefighter 1 standards, assimilated into the Oregon DPSST fire training system, and graduate into the volunteer firefighter program as Certified Firefighter I when they turn 18.

During the last two years, Steve has dedicated a total of over 280 hours to training and 465 hours to incidents for the district. His commitment and devotion to the Lookingglass Fire District is truly remarkable.
Outstanding Special District Services

This award category recognizes individuals who have contributed substantially to the improvement and successful operation of his or her special district.

Four subcategories have been established for this award:
  • Board Member
  • Manager (Nomination must be submitted by the district's board of directors.)
  • Employee (Nomination must be submitted by the district's manager.)
  • Volunteer
SDAO Board and SDIS Trust members are ineligible to be nominated for this award.

Click here to download a form (Fillable PDF) to nominate an individual

  Click here to download a form (Word) to nominate an individual

Outstanding Special District Program Award Videos

2016-2017 Outstanding Special District Program Award Recipients

Outstanding Special District Program Award: 5 or Fewer Employees
Lake Chinook Fire & Rescue
Lake Chinook Fire & Rescue is an expansive 105-square-mile fire district with limited funding and resources that serves prominently rural residents and vacation property owners in Central Oregon. The district needed to upgrade facilities to provide fire protection and emergency services.

Many small fire districts are accustomed to dealing with limited funding, staff, and volunteers; but few are located in areas with little or no infrastructure. Lake Chinook Fire & Rescue established a new six-bay apparatus building, and re-purposed a modular office from State of Oregon Surplus with living quarters that are powered by solar panels and supplied with on-site water. This new facility resulted in faster and more effective response and improved safety.

Aside from improved ability to provide emergency services, this project demonstrated creativity, resourcefulness, and frugality. It has also provided peace of mind for nearby residents and property owners.

Outstanding Special District Program Award: 6-25 Employees
Hauser RFPD
Due to various issues, a neighboring fire district was unable to provide service within its district. The fire district approached Hauser RFPD for assistance. Hauser RFPD immediately stepped in, taking over calls, paperwork, public relations, recruitment, and decision making for the district. They brought tremendous support to the struggling district’s community in providing certified personnel in both fire and EMS. Hauser also assisted with community events
at minimal expense to the other district.

It has been a challenging road but Hauser continues to assist the other fire district get back on their feet. The outlook is positive and couldn’t have been so without the support and dedication of Hauser RFPD.

Outstanding Special District Program Award: 26+ Employees
Tualatin Valley Water District
Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) maintains a process to continually upgrade a regional water system that serves almost 220,000 customers in suburban Washington County. Several years ago, inspections of the Hyde Park Reservoir and nearby Inglewood Reservoir and Pump Station had revealed structural problems and other concerns, the most significant leading to the Hyde Park Reservoir being decommissioned. New infrastructure was needed in this area, and TVWD decided to plan, design, and construct the new Ridgewood View Park Reservoir and Pump Station to solve the deficiency.

The $30 million project included a new 8-million gallon seismically resilient, reinforced concrete reservoir, a new 11-million gallon per day pump station, 6,700 feet of new 24-inch diameter welded steel pipeline, and, in partnership with the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD), a brand-new neighborhood park and playground adjacent to the site. During the project, TVWD and THPRD worked collaboratively to improve the reservoir and park facilities by working closely with neighbors throughout the design and construction. Open houses and neighborhood feedback helped identify the neighborhood’s vision for the facilities that was realized in the final park master plan.

The system improvements from this project benefit the entire district, especially the customers in the higher elevation pressure zones in the West Hills. The primary value added is TVWD’s dedication to maintaining critical water infrastructure to provide reliable water service for its customers. This increased reliability and safety includes a resilient water supply, with backup for power failures and building to modern seismic standards that meet the 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake requirements.
Outstanding Special District Program Award

This award category recognizes innovative projects and programs, outstanding safety, public information, public involvement in a district decision making process, and outstanding achievement.

Efforts in these areas are considered in light of available resources (i.e., smaller districts may have significantly fewer resources than larger districts); therefore, three subcategories have been established for this award:
  • Districts with 5 or fewer employees
  • Districts with 6-25 employees
  • District with 26 or more employees

Click here to download a form (Fillable PDF) to nominate a special district

  Click here to download a form (Word) to nominate a special district

Awards Program FAQ

How do I submit an application?

Complete the SDAO Awards Program nomination form by responding to each question, attaching additional pages if necessary. Applicants are encouraged to include video footage if available. See the catergories above to download a nomination form.

We are currently accepting nominations for 2018-19 which will be awarded at the SDAO Annual Conference on February 9, 2019. The application deadline is October 8, 2018. Submit completed nomination form(s) to: SDAO, PO Box 12613, Salem, Oregon 97309-0613.

How are entries judged? 
Applications will be reviewed by the awards committee members using standard evaluation features such as: impact for other districts, positive results, special purpose, increased safety, cost savings, improved quality of service, innovation, and community need.

What do I do if I win? 
Winners may accept the award in person at the SDAO Annual Conference Awards Banquet on February 9, 2019 in Sunriver. Recipients who are unable to attend the conference may have someone accept the award on their behalf, or may request to have their award mailed to them.

Who do I contact if I have questions?
If you have any questions, please contact at 800-285-5461.