The Dawson County Sheriff's Office honored its top employees last week during the department's annual Christmas luncheon at the law enforcement center.
In a time when budgets are tight, Sheriff Billy Carlisle opted to give gift cards and commendations to the winners instead of plaques.
"We wanted to give you something you could use," he said.
Carlisle said the men and women selected as employees of the year for their divisions went above and beyond during 2011.
Recently promoted to sergeant, Nick Sarisky was selected as Patrol Officer of the Year.
"Nick has been one of our standout deputies...the poster child for our department," said Maj. Greg Rowan. "He does a great job. He's a good, strong supervisor and we appreciate that."
Rowan presented Cpl. Steven Swofford with School Resource Officer of the Year.
"We have a small, core dedicated group of school resource officers. It's very, very hard not to single out every single one of them." Rowan said. "You almost have to select one each year, because they all deserve it each and every year."
Debra Wimpy, 9-1-1 director, chose communication officers Kris White and Kristi Hudson as her division's employees of the year.
"My whole staff has been unreal. They have done remarkably," she said. "These two, no matter when you need them or what you need, they are there for you. I want to say thank you. We appreciate y'all so much."
Lt. Frank Sosebee presented Cpl. David Lingerfelt with Detention Officer of the Year.
"David's actually been running a shift for about the last eight months without a sergeant. He's one of the top employees we have in detention," Sosebee said. "We're so lucky to have him in detention, and I'm going to try to keep him in detention."
Lt. Ray Goodie, division commander for criminal investigations, said he has dreaded having to choose an employee of the year.
"When I took over in March, the one decision I just dreaded is this one, because it's kind of hard with so many good people that work in CID and really stand out on a daily basis," Goodie said.
After speaking with sergeants within the division, Goodie chose Jeremy Thompson as Investigator of the Year.
"Most people you kind of have to talk them into working, but this guy you've got to talk him out of working and make him go home," Goodie said.
Goodie also recognized Thompson's wife Jennifer, who he described as "one of the most understanding and forgiving spouses" he's known.
"Jeremy comes to work during the night, 3 o'clock in the morning, stays late, cancels his plans," he said.
Maj. Brandy Branson said his choice for Sheriff Services Employee of the Year was also a difficult one.
"I have three or four people I feel are exceptional and I brag on them all the time, so I had to make a decision. In doing that, I had to look at not only what they did everyday but also what they did above and beyond," he said.
Branson selected Sgt. Doug Boyle for not only his commitment and work ethic in court services, but also his contributions outside the courtroom, including organizing a motorcycle run to benefit the department's Shop with a Cop program.
"That let 28 more kids go to Walmart and shop with cops," Branson said.
Each year, the sheriff's staff members are asked to nominate a co-worker as the department's overall employee of the year.
Carlisle said Bob Bolz, who oversees the department's training division, received the most nominations.
"What everyone kept saying about Bob is since we hired him, he's taken our training division another step higher than it was. We're now able to do a lot more training in-house than we were," Carlisle said. "He really went above and beyond this year."
Bolz received a 3-night trip to Pigeon Forge as his reward.
Carlisle said the trip, all the awards, gift cards and dinner served during the awards ceremony were donated by people in the community.
"We want to thank all those people out in our county for doing it," Carlisle said.
Carlisle also recognized Amanda Martin, Debra Soderquist and Brenda Romeo who support the department in administrative roles.
Employees were also honored with service recognitions.