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.