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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s webmaster has been awarded the agency’s top individual honor.  Mike Knepler was presented the Director’s Achievement Award today at the department’s 34th annual Employee Luncheon and Awards Ceremony.

Knepler, a Springfield resident who has worked for the state 17 years, was selected from among 11 Employee of the Month award winners.  Other finalists were:  Susan Baatz, Sherri Powell, Laurie Leuenberger, Tom Waller, John Hughey, Lee McKean, Dawn Ribble, Kristi Jones, Kelly Beck and Kent McFarland.

Wendy Call, an employee of the division of Food Safety and Animal Protection, was presented the Assistant Director’s Fellowship Award.  Call, of Springfield, was honored for her “unfailing good cheer.”  As one colleague wrote, “Wendy is known as a ‘go to’ person when others need help.  She truly fulfills the spirit of this award.”

Former general counsel Shari West, an Illiopolis resident, won the Ag Ambassador Award.  According to co-workers, West’s “natural legal abilities and calming demeanor not only improved the public’s understanding of the department’s services, but also promoted a positive perception of the agricultural industry.”

The Commitment to Quality Award was presented to the architects of Driftwatch, a new, web-based tool that aims to protect pesticide-sensitive crops by improving communication between growers and commercial pesticide applicators.  The program allows specialty growers to enter the location of their fields on an Internet map that pesticide applicators can consult to avoid spraying sensitive crops.  Staff worked with representatives of Purdue University to make it available.  The team included Steve Chard and Kevin Rogers, both of Springfield, Scott Frank of Mason City and Warren Goetsch of Williamsville.

The Ron King Award for Efficiency went to Linda McQuinn of Springfield, an employee of the Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Services.

Twenty-seven employees were honored during the ceremony for 10, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service. A complete list follows:

40 Years

Name                                       Hometown

Robert Dennis                          Springfield

35 Years

Name                                       Hometown

James Cavanaugh                    Wonder Lake

Lynda Musselman                   Sherman

30 Years

Name                                       Hometown

Dale Hook                               Millington

John Lohse                              Rochester

Tammy Payne                          Springfield

Rita Taylor                               Pleasant Plains

Thomas Tournear                    Dover

25 Years

Name                                       Hometown

Howard Baker                         Minonk

Brenda Books                          Sherman

William Herrin                         Colfax

Gina Merano                            Kincaid

Brenda Shanle                         Buffalo

Janet Still                                 Mt. Sterling

Roy Winbigler                         Galesburg

20 Years

Name                                       Hometown

Lynn Burton                            Galesburg

Leann Fitzgerald                      Rochester

Juliann Heminghous                Chatham

Laurie Leuenberger                  Stonington

Donald Ruckman                     Altamont

Shelley Snyder                         Gilson

Craig Von Burg                        Carlyle

10 Years

Name                                       Hometown

Dennis Beckmier                     Humboldt

Robert Edwards                       Arcola

David Gleason                         Springfield

Brenda Shepherd                     Oneida

Barbara Stewart                       Lamoille


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