SPRINGFIELD – On behalf of Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Director Roger E. Walker Jr. today recognized five outstanding front line employees as 2006 Correctional Officers of the Year at a ceremony in Springfield.
“These frontline employees are being recognized for their outstanding work ethic, professionalism and leadership,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “They serve by example to protect the public and the safety of our prison system and they deserve our thanks.”
Director Walker commended the efforts of front line staff and noted that the agency’s main focus is to operate a safe and secure prison system. The five IDOC employees who Director Walker has recognized are Michael Maines of Centralia Correctional Center, Justine Aldred of Lincoln Correctional Center, Louis Higgins of Peoria Adult Transition Center, Richard Hesterly of Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg, and Dennis Starnes of District 2 Parole Office.
“Safety is at the forefront in all facets of our operations,” Walker said. “The Governor and IDOC are committed to the success of innovative prison-based treatment, prevention programs and successful reentry management. It is an honor to recognize these exemplary employees whose courage and steadfast commitment carry out our mission with purpose and dedication.”
Nominations for this year’s award come from officers recognized at each of IDOC’s 27 state prisons, eight juvenile centers, eight adult transition centers and parole districts. This year’s top five front line employees were presented with recognition letters from the governor and IDOC director and a $500 check from the Employee Benefit Fund. The nominees are judged on leadership, initiative, professionalism and service to their community and career.
Employees receiving top honors during a ceremony at the agency’s General Headquarters in Springfield are:
• Correctional Officer Michael Maines of Centralia Correctional Center
C.O. Maines has a fine working knowledge of the facility security function. He interacts with extreme effectiveness while dealing with inmate issues. His communication talents and sense of reasoning are superb. He is able to pool information resources and provide good advice to an inmate looking for answers. C.O. Maines takes the time to make a difference.
• Correctional Officer Justine Aldred of Lincoln Correctional Center
C.O. Aldred is admired for her professionalism and positive attitude. She continuously takes the initiative to assist her fellow staff members on or off duty. She has been a volunteer for Special Olympics of Illinois since 1997. C.O. Aldred has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Illinois State University.
• Correctional Residence Counselor II Louis Higgins of Peoria Adult Transition Center
CRCII Higgins is dedicated to the human aspect of his job. He takes the time to fully understand a resident or staff situation and then resolves the conflict. He is professional, sets a positive example for others to follow and is well respected. He takes his job and the security of the facility seriously. He is dedicated and positive to the mission of IDOC.
• Youth Supervisor II Richard Hesterly of Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg
YSII Hesterly possesses strong leadership skills and has an outstanding attendance record. He shows the utmost initiative completing his assignments and assisting staff. His overall quality of work is achieved with accuracy and completeness. YSII Hesterly shows leadership skills by displaying good communication and encouraging others to perform efficiently and to set high standards for themselves.
• Senior Parole Agent Dennis Starnes of District 2
Agent Starnes has a vast knowledge and experience of his job and is willing to step up to the plate. He possesses a positive and upbeat attitude and completes assignments accurately and timely. He is always available to assist staff in parole operations as well as other law enforcement agency operations.
Other facility nominees include:
C.O. Nominee list for 2006
Big Muddy River Correctional Center Correctional Officer Terri Keener
Danville Correctional Center Correctional Officer Dennis Breneman
Dixon Correctional Center Correctional Officer Diana Diehl
East Moline Correctional Center Correctional Officer Anastasia Wierema
Graham Correctional Center Correctional Officer Harrel Duayne Clinard
Hill Correctional Center Correctional Officer Barbara King
Illinois River Correctional Center Correctional Officer Bobby Hall
Jacksonville Correctional Center Correctional Officer Everett Sunley Correctional
Officer Kurt Rogers
Lawrence Correctional Center Correctional Officer Richard Casburn
Logan Correctional Center Correctional Officer Gerald Morgan
Menard Correctional Center Correctional Officer Kellie Ellis
Pinckneyville Correctional Center Correctional Officer Jeff Keller
Pontiac Correctional Center Correctional Officer Scott Clark
Robinson Correctional Center Correctional Officer Shawn Hance
Shawnee Correctional Center Correctional Officer Joyce Manis
Sheridan Correctional Center Correctional Officer Don Novak
Southwestern IL Correctional Center Correctional Officer Kevin Henke
Stateville Correctional Center Correctional Officer Daniel Voight
Tamms Correctional Center Correctional Officer James Starkweather
Taylorville Correctional Center Correctional Officer Mark Gerlach
Vandalia Correctional Center Correctional Officer Stuart Lakin
Vienna Correctional Center Correctional Officer Joe Roach
Western IL Correctional Center Correctional Officer Roger McNeff
Adult Transition Centers
Crossroads Adult Transition Center Corrections Residence Counselor I
Decatur Adult Transition Center Corrections Residence Counselor I
Jessie “Ma” Houston Adult Transition Center Corrections Residence Counselor I
North Lawndale Adult Transition Center Corrections Residence Counselor I
Southern Illinois Adult Transition Center Corrections Residence Counselor I
West Side Adult Transition Center Corrections Residence Counselor II
Women and Family Services Division
Decatur Correctional Center Correctional Lt. LaDonna Manns
Dwight Correctional Center Correctional Sgt. James Boland
Fox Valley Adult Transition Center Corrections Residence Counselor I
Illinois Youth Center-Chicago Youth Supervisor II Regina Anderson
Illinois Youth Center-Joliet Youth Supervisor II Christopher Owens
Illinois Youth Center-Kewanee Youth Supervisor II (Ellen) Renee Seavey
Illinois Youth Center-Murphysboro Youth Supervisor III Scott Timmons
Illinois Youth Center-Pere Marquette Youth Supervisor William “Bill” Bates
Illinois Youth Center-St. Charles Youth Supervisor II Natalie Finley
Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville Youth Supervisor II Rachel Moore
District 1 Parole Agent Alexsei Norton
District 3 Senior Parole Agent Gregory Hayes
District 4 Parole Agent Dale Englemann
District 5 Parole Agent Scott Chamness
Parole Agent Brian Upchurch
Sex Offender Supervision Unit Parole Agent Shannon Champion
EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact the warden’s office for correctional centers and youth centers and the superintendent’s office for adult transition centers for interview requests.