Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle recognized his top employees of 2015 during the department's annual Christmas luncheon and celebration at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame earlier this month.
A bit different than in past years, the Dec. 18 luncheon also served as a tribute to his longtime administrative assistant Kathy "Ma" Stover, who plans to retire in March after more than 27 years of service to the sheriff's office.
"She's been with me through my entire career," Carlisle said as he named Stover the department's overall employee of the year. "She's known as ‘Ma' to everybody, and I've seen her sew officer uniforms up, sew on buttons. She's always been the ‘Mom' to this department."
Employees, who went above and beyond during 2015 for their respective divisions, were also recognized.
Maj. Brandy Branson said his choice of Administrative Assistant Lynda Townley for Sheriff's Services Officer of the Year was the obvious pick.
Like Stover, Townley is retiring. Dec. 18 was her last day with the department.
"She does a job that people can't see. We can't operate without her doing what she did," Branson said. "We love you, Ms. Lynda."
Another soon to be retiree, Ron Bray, who is assigned to Dawson County High, was named School Resource Officer of the Year.
Deputy Donna Bennett was named Patrol Officer of the Year.
"[She] has been exposed to just about everything you can imagine in the last year," said Maj. Greg Rowan. "Everybody knows this has been a very busy year for all of us."
Bennett and K9 Officer Jessica Kraft were also presented with the department's Life Saving Award for their heroic efforts in rescuing two men during a fiery head-on crash in June.
Sgt. Melissa Brown was named employee of the year from the department's office of professional standards division.
"[Melissa] works like there's about five or six of her," said Lt. Bob Bolz.
Jail commander Maj. Jeff Johnson presented Sgt. Teresa Kirby with Detention Officer of the Year and also recognized Records Manager Amanda Martin for a job well done, while Maj. Ray Goodie, division commander for criminal investigations, chose Travis Greene as Investigator of the Year.
Communication officer Tasha Tolbert was selected as her division's employee of the year, chosen by her co-workers in the 9-1-1 center.
"Since Tasha was promoted [earlier this year], she has went wild like wildfire. She's doing an outstanding job," said Director Debra Wimpy.