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County honors top employees
2 Top Rutledge

Dawson County government has a talented staff of many, but county leaders say none are more deserving to be named employees of the year than James Tolbert, Donna Rutledge and Kerry Vanderpool.


Officials say a desire to go above and beyond describes Tolbert, who has served as facilities manager since January.


The same goes for Rutledge, who works in 911 mapping for the sheriff’s office, and Kerry Vanderpool, a volunteer firefighter at Station 2.


“I’ve known James Tolbert for over 20 years and in that time I’ve always known him to be a very dedicated employee and hard worker,” said Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner of the longtime employee, who began as a groundskeeper.


Tolbert, described as a leader that creates an atmosphere of accomplishment and pride, served as park director for many years before his promotion to facilities manager in January.


“James has surprised me over the last eight months in his ability to work with the facilities department to get the job done,” Tanner said.


He said that Tolbert, along with the other staff members, has saved taxpayers more than $100,000 by redoing and rehabbing several government buildings and “allowing us to move out of rented space.”


Tolbert’s supervisor, Public Works Director David Headley, said he could not think of a more deserving staff member.


“He has selflessly served the citizens of this county for over 15 years and has been instrumental in the development of its park system and Public Works Facilities Maintenance Division,” Headley said.


“In both cases, Mr. Tolbert has elevated the level of service ... His no-nonsense demeanor is a trait, I believe, fueled by his desire to be a good steward of the taxpayer.”


Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle said Rutledge holds a similar philosophy and desire to improve operations to better serve residents.


“It’s Donna’s willingness that sets her apart,” Carlisle said. “If you walked in and asked her to do something, she’d do it without question.”


Carlisle asks his staff to nominate the most deserving person for the honor.


While Rutledge is stationed at 911, Carlisle received her nomination from the criminal investigations division.


“She has assisted CID on numerous occasions, helping us when asked. She always has a good attitude and tells us to call her anytime we need her help,” read the anonymous nomination.


Carlisle said the nomination is testament to Rutledge’s abilities and her desire to help.


Helping others is a way of life for Vanderpool, Dawson County Emergency Services’ top employee.


A career firefighter with the city of Woodstock, Vanderpool has served in a volunteer capacity with Dawson County Station 2 for more than five years.


“Kerry Vanderpool is one of Dawson County’s full-time volunteers,” said Chief of Emergency Services Lanier Swafford. “Along with working at Woodstock, he owns his own security business and still devotes hundreds of hours annually to his community through his work with emergency services.”


Although Station 2 is a volunteer post, it is regularly one of the county’s busiest.


“In 2008 alone, Lt. Vanderpool responded to over 250 calls for assistance. He and Capt. (Douglas) Wofford are continually training their volunteers and set very high expectations for their folks,” Swafford said.


The three received their awards Dec. 9 during the Rotary Club of Dawson County’s annual holiday gathering at the Lakeview Center.


E-mail Michele Hester at