Juneau Rotary presents Vocational Service awards

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vocational Service awards to local individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations capped a month-long Rotary Club of Juneau focus on business ethics. Rotary's annual Vocational Service awards recognize local businesses that provide exemplary services to the community.

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Courtesy Of Mary Lou Gerbi
Courtesy Of Mary Lou Gerbi

"What sets these recipients apart is that each is willing to go the extra mile to get the job done," said Rotary Vocational Service chairman Bob Rehfeld. "They not only practice high ethical standards but they have dignified their professions with duty, responsibility and obligation."

Corporate recognition went to Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. for the herculean effort by management, employees and contractors to restore the transmission line to Juneau following the April 16 avalanche that knocked out hydroelectric power from Snettisham. Through ingenuity, astute planning and implementation, and a measure of good luck, the company restored power lines by the first of June despite an initial estimate of 90 days. AEL&P president Tim McLeod, Transmission Engineer Eric Eriksen, Generation Engineer Scott Willis, CFO Connie Hulbert, and Director of Consumer Affairs Gayle Wood accepted the award.

This year's nonprofit Vocational Service recipient, REACH, is an organization that works with the community's developmentally disabled. Created by local families, REACH provides early childhood growth and development programs, short-term respite care, and support and vocational services to promote the independence and well-being of persons with disabilities. Now in its 13th year, the organization serves 400 individuals in several Southeast communities and has begun construction of a new assisted living facility in Juneau. Representing REACH were Executive Director Richard Fagundes and CFO Peggy Schick.

Individual recognition went to Rebecca Parks, education specialist for the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) sponsored by the Juneau Economic and Development Council and funded by the National Defense Education Program. Working in the schools, Rebecca helped develop Juneau's First LEGO League, a global program that challenges students and their mentors to research, design, and build an autonomous robot that completes pre-designed missions. Students also present their problem-solving techniques and solutions to a panel of judges.

In addition to her work on the STEM program, Parks also manages Juneau's Knowledge Industry Network, a networking opportunity for young professionals designed to foster "a cauldron of interaction, innovation and entrepreneurship" for Alaska's youth and young professionals.

Rotary's Vocational Service award to a governmental organization went to the Juneau-Douglas High School Secondary Planning Team. For two years, the team has worked to create innovative educational programs geared to challenge students, improve attendance, increase graduation rates, cut drug and alcohol abuse, and improve school safety. The group designed Thunder Mountain High School with small learning communities and themed academies that, according to research, positively affect grades, test scores, and overall student success.

At Juneau-Douglas High School, stepped-up intervention efforts improved graduation rates, which climbed from 64 to 74 percent this past year, as listed on the school's Web site. Annualized dropout rates declined in recent years by nearly 20 percent.

"We applaud not only the planning team but all who have chosen education as their vocation and the principle they hold that every child should be given the opportunity to learn and succeed in our schools," Rehfeld said.

Those recognized included Superintendent Peggy Cowan, former Assistant Superintendent Charla Wright, current Assistant Superintendent Laury Scandling, Juneau Douglas High School Principal Bernie Sorenson, and Thunder Mountain High School Principal Patti Bippus.

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