By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Rotary Club of Dawson County honors community’s top public employees
Rotary Club awards 2023 1
Planning and Development Director Sharon Farrell, left, watches as Rotary Club president Nicole Stewart, right, presents employee Margaret Honn with an award for being Dawson County’s top employee of 2022. - photo by Julia Hansen

While their daily duties vary, all of the public employees recognized at the most recent Rotary Club of Dawson County meeting had at least one thing in common–their standout work ethic.

For that, colleagues named them the top 2022 workers in each of their departments, and they were all given awards during the Rotary chapter’s Feb. 9 meeting. 

This story continues below.


As Dawson County’s “business license guru,” Development Services representative Margaret Honn has become quite the popular person with her growing queue of customers, said planning director Sharon Farrell. 

Tax Commissioner and Rotary Club of Dawson County President Nicole Stewart later added that when receiving award picks, Honn was nominated by two different county departments.

Farrell called the awardee choice a “no contest” decision.

Honn has worked for Dawson County since 2011, when she came out of retirement to start serving with the planning department. 

Rotary Club awards 2023 2
Dawson County employee Margaret Hohn smiles with her new recognition award in hand. From left, Sharon Farrell, Honn and Nicole Stewart. - photo by Julia Hansen

“Margaret is a beloved member of the planning staff and has been the front-facing person of the office for many years,” Chief Financial Officer and Interim County Manager Vickie Neikirk said on Feb. 2, quoting one of Honn’s colleagues. “[She’s] always one to help and [has] an immense amount of knowledge. Margaret is truly invaluable.”

Neikirk added the county often gets compliments from customers about Honn’s “great customer service” and “helpful attitude.”

“She not only helps with issuing business licenses, but she really helps some of the new folks coming in and explains to them [what’s needed]…she’s just a wealth of information,” Farrell added at the Rotary meeting. “Everybody loves working with Margaret.”

Fire & EMS

Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services recognized firefighter Keith Mangum as their top employee. Mangum started volunteering with DCFES a decade ago.

Rotary Club awards 2023 3
Firefighter Keith Mangum was named the top Dawson County Fire & EMS employee for this past year. From left, Nicole Stewart, Division Chief Johnny Irvin, Keith Mangum and Fire Chief Troy Leist. - photo by Julia Hansen

“During that time, he achieved many accomplishments equal to a career firefighter,” said Operations and Training Division Chief Johnny Irwin. “He dedicated his time, which goes beyond the call of measure.”

“Gratefully, he decided to come to us as a career firefighter in 2022 and obtained an instructor certification to be able to pass on his knowledge to the future generations of the fire service,” Irwin added, “and we’re so proud of him.”


During the Rotary Club’s awards, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson called employees like HR and budget manager Sandra Evans crucial to his agency’s mission.

“Without our most valuable resource, our men and women…we would be failing,” Johnson said. “Oftentimes, when you think about the sheriff’s office, you think about the [patrol] cars you see on the road…but behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on as well.”

Evans has served the agency for 12 years, with her duties encompassing much of the office’s day-to-day administrative matters. 

Rotary Club awards 2023 4
The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office named its longtime HR and budget manager Sandra Evans as its top 2022 employee. From left, Sheriff Jeff Johnson, Evans, Nicole Stewart and DCSO Maj. Greg Rowan. - photo by Julia Hansen

She has also been a key organizer for DCSO’s annual “Shop with a Cop” event, which helps local children purchase Christmas presents who couldn’t otherwise do so. 

“All of the business owners in here [know] you always have an office mom, and that’s what Sandra is as well,” Johnson added. 


When talking about the City of Dawsonville Public Works employee Steven McNeal, District 3 city councilman John Walden used phrases like “always on time,” “very reliable” and “and a great asset to the team.”

McNeal was hired by the city in 2018 as a public works operator, and he now works as a foreman within the department. 

“One thing I can say about Steve is he goes above and beyond the responsibilities given to him by the city,” Walden said.

Rotary Club awards 2023 5
City of Dawsonville personnel selected foreman Steven McNeal as the town’s top employee of 2022. From left, city councilman John Walden, McNeal, Public Works Director Trampas Hansard and Nicole Stewart. - photo by Julia Hansen

Whether it’s lending a hand at the city’s Main Street Park or “Food Truck Friday” events, the city councilman said McNeal will go the extra mile to “help citizens first hand.”

“If he doesn't have the answer, he’ll go get it,” Walden added.

Tax Commissioner

For the elected officials category, Stewart announced one of her office’s own employees as the award recipient.

Rotary Club awards 2023 6
Heather Turner was chosen as Dawson County’s top employee working within an elected official’s office. From left, Turner and Tax Commissioner Nicole Stewart. - photo by Julia Hansen

Turner came to the Dawson County Tax Commissioner’s Office from Cherokee County, bringing a breadth of transaction and other institutional knowledge to serve as a tax and tag specialist. 

“One of my favorite things about Heather is she always goes out of her way to help any of her fellow teammates,” said Stewart, “so I'm very thankful for you.”