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Colee, DeFazio and Howard honored as city employees of the year

MADISON – Shannon DeFazio, Kenneth Howard and Jason Colee received awards in 2021 Madison Employee of the Year recognition.

These city employees received awards at Madison City Council’s May 10 meeting. Rotary Club of Madison has sponsored the recognition for 21 years.

With city approval, Rotarians spotlight city workers for exemplary work in law enforcement, fire protection and community services. Department supervisors select employees for the honor, Debbie Overcash said. Overcash, a Rotarian, chairs the award program.

Honorees receive a plaque, name inscription on City Hall’s perpetual plaque, Parrots of the Caribbean tickets and cash from Rotary.

* Officer Shannon DeFazio, “Officer of the Year,” Madison Police Department – DeFazio joined the Madison force in June 2018. In February 2020, she earned certification as Crisis Intervention Team or CIT Officer, with specialized training to de-escalate citizens experiencing mental health crises.

DeFazio has mitigated countless calls involving citizens experiencing mental health crises. In January, Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger appointed her as Community Mental Health Officer, giving her authority to begin involuntary mental commitment of persons who are a hazard to themselves or others.

“In one 12-hour shift, Officer DeFazio responded to three mental health calls that resulted in involuntary commitment of three citizens who were a danger to themselves and would have suffered further without immediate mental health assistance,” Acting Police Chief John Stringer said.

DeFazio also has received medals for CPR on unresponsive subjects.

When officer applicants are scrutinized, ‘character’ is the deciding factor. “Officer DeFazio embodies character and lives as an example to officers and citizens,” Stringer said. “Her commitment to making a sustainable difference in the lives of our citizens who experience mental health crises is impressive and inspiring.”

* Firefighter/Paramedic Kenneth ‘Ken’ Howard, “Firefighter of the Year,” Madison Fire and Rescue Department – Howard has worked with the department for seven years, first as Firefighter/Paramedic and currently as Driver/Engineer and Paramedic.

Fire Chief David Bailey said recipients of this award must demonstrate dedication, loyalty, service and professionalism. Howard’s Shift Captain and Chief of Special Operations credited him with all these attributes.

Howard strives to improve his station and enhance service delivery. For example, to separate crews during COVID-19, the department moved Station 1 Engine Company to the abandoned Public Works facility on Celtic Drive. Howard was among employees converting that site to a working firehouse.

“Ken donated personal household items to make it a nicer place and worked hard to create a livable facility. To-date, he has made and mounted the firefighter flag plaque at his station and the fire hose flag at Station 1,” Bailey said.

At his request, Howard led retrofit of used pick-up trucks to a First Response Paramedic Squad. The changes included equipment placement, building/mounting brackets and equipment, along with troubleshooting.

This past year, Howard supervised the Paramedic Orientation Program for three new medics. He serves as SWAT Team Medic and the drone team’s Lead Support.

Howard and wife Kim live in Madison with their two children, ages five and eight.

“Ken’s experience, his calm demeanor no matter the circumstances, his teamwork ethic and his positive spirit have led him to be a tremendous asset for his shift, department and Madison citizens,” Bailey said.

* Jason Colee, “City Employee of the Year,” Information Technology Department – Colee and the city’s IT team maintain computers, software, phones and electronic devices for more than 300 full-time employees. During 2020, IT managed implementation of the police department’s records management system for, major upgrades to equipment and software systemwide and continued monitoring of cyber-intrusion threats.

During COVID-19 restrictions, IT pivoted to support municipal demands and employee needs to quickly outfit laptops for employees to work from home. For more office space, IT employees installed internet and telephone service to the Three Springs facility and former Public Works building. Colee supervised wireless connectivity for downtown ‘hot spots’ and parks.

Colee’s focus on cyber-security involved strategic development of hardware/software configurations. IT added cyber training citywide, helping employees to better understand threats and simplify documentation of threats.

“Jason’s positive attitude shines each day at City Hall,” Mayor Paul Finley said. “His ability to thrive under COVID’s added workload and stress continues to pay huge dividends for our city and community. We are proud of Jason and happy to call him Employee of the Year.”

“The residents of Madison, along with Mayor Paul Finley, our City Council and the Rotary Club of Madison, thank these fine individuals for their service to our community and congratulate you all on a job very well done,” Overcash said.

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