Mayor Chris Beutler today will present the Annual Mayor's Award of Excellence for 2013 to Caleb Whisenhunt, a StarTran Bus Operator in the Public Works and Utilities Department. Whisenhunt is being honored for preventing what could have been a serious injury to a passenger. The award will be presented at the beginning of today's City Council meeting, which begins at 3 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street.
On October 24, 2012, Whisenhunt was driving the Veteran's Hospital route when a young girl jumped off his bus and ran in front of it without looking for traffic. At that time, a large truck was passing the bus, and the girl ran into the path of the truck. Whisenhunt saw what was happening and honked the bus horn to alert her. The girl stopped, and although the truck grazed her, her injuries were minimal.
Whisenhunt was nominated in the category of valor by Bus Operations Superintendent Mike Weston, who said Whisenhunt may have saved the passenger's life.
All monthly award nominees and winners are eligible to receive the annual award. Whisenhunt will receive a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque. The Mayor also presented him with the Mayor's Medallion.
The 2013 Honorable Mention Award will be presented to LaNita Nelson of Aging Partners. Nelson is a Kitchen Manager a the Northeast Senior Center. She was nominated by David Chapelle, Manager of the Northeast Senior Center, for her actions to help a regular guest at the Center.
One Friday, a gentleman had a dizzy spell while at the Center. When he was absent the following Monday, Nelson became concerned and called him. He told her he was fine, but had some business to attend to, and would call when he was ready to return. After two weeks passed without word from him, others became concerned. Nelson called again but got no response. She checked the emergency contact list and called his sister, but she was not at home. Nelson then called the Police Department. Officers found the man in his bed, disoriented and unresponsive, and he was taken to the hospital. Emergency workers estimated that he had been in bed without food or water for a week. Because of Nelson's actions, he was soon on his way to recovery.
The categories in which employees can be nominated are customer service, productivity, safety, valor and loss prevention. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description. All City employees are eligible for the award except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: hr) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources Department, which oversees the awards program. All nominations are considered by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Monthly award winners receive a $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque.