A city hall full of jolly good fellows

Published on Thu, Feb 28, 2002
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A city hall full of jolly good fellows

It was ‘pat on the back’ night at Blaine city council as the city recognized employees and citizens for service and longevity.

“These are just a few of our finest employees,” said city manager Gary Tomsic, capping off an evening that celebrated everything from police officer of the year to one, or 25-years on the job.

A committee of community members and law enforcement professionals chose Jon Landis as officer of the year for the Blaine police department and Matthew Munden as reserve officer of the year. The awards were, for the first time, given in memory of deputy chief Larry A. Duroso and reserve officer Douglas O. Krenz who were killed in the line of duty in 1978.

The Duroso and Krenz awards, which will be given out annually, will go to the officers who, through service to the community or sacrifice on the job, set the bar for police service in the community, said police chief Bill Elfo.

Landis, who has been with the Blaine police since 1995, has carved himself a niche with the Blaine school system where he is “well known, well-liked and trusted,” by students and staff, Elfo said. He participates in a long list of activities, both on and off the job, designed to get kids off the street and involved in community and recreation. Through his connection to Blaine’s youth, he has been able to quickly resolve several potentially dangerous situations at local schools.

Traffic safety has also been one of Landis’ focuses, Elfo said, and he has developed programs such as the annual bike rodeo, car seat safety drive and high school drunk driving prevention campaign to teach road sense. He also writes more tickets than anyone else does, in case someone doesn’t get the message, and gets few complaints. Last year, he received a traffic safety award from the state traffic safety commission.

While a lot of his work is aimed at keeping Blaine’s kids and roads safe, he is also a good criminal investigator, Elfo said. His community connections have led him to spot and stop many crimes before they happen, and to quickly solve them when they do. He has received commendations for everything from drug busts to grave robberies. “A week does not go by when I do not receive a telephone call from someone complimenting officer Landis,” Elfo said.

Landis has also been chosen by Post 86 of the American Legion as their officer of the year, and will be honored at a March 15 open house at the Legion hall off Blaine Road.

Reserve officer of the year Munden volunteered 654 hours last year, coming in at all hours and for all sorts of details, Elfo said. He has branched out from patrol duties to work with the canine program, helping with training and taking police dog Yoschi home with him when the regular handler is not available. Munden has also shown some investigative teeth, Elfo said, picking up a lead that is likely to result in arrests in a “multi-state crime ring.”

Firefighter Dave Notar of the Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services and Whatcom Medic One Paramedic Ryan Provencher were honored for quickly stepping in when a knife-wielding heroin addict in withdrawal threatened to overpower a Blaine police officer. “Without their help I believe I would have been injured, possibly fatally,” wrote officer James Glover after the February 9 incident. “Our officers and firefighters both have difficult jobs,” said Elfo in presenting the pair with citizen awards. “It’s reassuring to know that, when a crisis develops they don’t hesitate to jump in and help one another.”

“If we can keep them for one, we can keep them for 30,” Tomsic said, handing out pins for one year of service to the city, among them Tomsic himself and city planning and economic development director Terry Galvin. “Hiring Terry was one of the first good things I did as city manager,” Tomsic said.

Employees celebrating five years or more of service received certificates and a cash bonus. Among those celebrating their ten-year anniversary with the city, Tomsic singled out Cheryl Ryan, “the face of Blaine” in the main office at city hall and city finance director Meredith Riley. “I’ve worked for 30 years in three states and she and her staff are one of the best operations I’ve seen,” he said of Riley’s finance department.

Michael Trueblood, wastewater treatment plant operator and compliance office, celebrated 15 years with the city. “We have a crummy wastewater facility and he and Frank Arnett and Clifford Ness make the thing work,” he said. He congratulated Trueblood on the plant’s recent run of 14 months without a single violation of the state discharge permit, which ended when the plant was overloaded after a December storm and barely missed treatment standards.

Deputy police chief Mike Haslip celebrated 25 years keeping the peace in Blaine. “This is the city’s longest tenured employee,” said Tomsic. In addition to his police work, Tomsic congratulated Haslip and a five-year city veteran, deputy finance director Sheri Sanchez, for keeping the city’s computer systems running smoothly and meeting the needs of different departments. “One of the things, when you work for a small city like Blaine, is you never get to wear one hat,” he said..

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