Honoring outstanding efforts by town staff

John McCann

This week, May 3-9, is Public Service Recognition Week. It has been celebrated the first week of May since 1985 to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees.

We have a great group of men and women who work at Town Hall. Like millions of public employees across the nation, these unsung heroes do the work that keeps our town functioning. Their dedication, leadership and tireless efforts are especially critical today, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of our response to COVID-19, I have had the opportunity to serve alongside many of our staff, from Town Manager Steve Riley and Human Resources Director Angie Stone to new staff attorney Stephen Ryan and executive assistants Krista Wiedmeyer and Phyllis Deiter.

I spend many days with these individuals and others making critical decisions on agenda items and our response to COVID-19, responding to calls and emails, working on resolutions and meeting with other government leaders.

You should know that many Town Hall staffers come to work every day to make sure our operations run smoothly and to keep the public informed. Town Hall may be closed to the public, but there's a lot happening behind closed doors.

When Town Council makes an impactful decision such as closing or opening public beach access points, Town Hall is flooded with calls. Staff is on the phone nearly all day answering questions.

When the COVID-19 crisis forced us to host virtual meetings, our IT, communications and administrative staff kicked into gear to make sure we were set up with the necessary technology to stream meetings live for the public.

Our Facilities Management team makes sure our buildings are cleaned every day to ensure everyone's safety. Our Emergency Operations Team, well-prepared to handle hurricanes, guided us through this crisis.

Our Community Development team continued processing building permits and kept up work on projects such as the Lowcountry Celebration Park. Now this team is spearheading our recovery process.

Our Cultural Affairs director, Jenn McEwen, kept the public engaged through virtual concerts and art activities. Our Fire Rescue workers not only responded to 911 calls, but took time to sing "Happy Birthday" to homebound children and adults.

A large percentage of town staffers, like many others in our community, are working from home and juggling lesson plans to help their children keep up with school work.

Town staff are also taking steps to remain safe. When they come to town facilities, they complete a screening assessment and take their temperatures to ensure they are well enough to work. They wear masks, wash hands, use hand sanitizer, and practice social distancing by meeting virtually and not entering each other's offices.

I could go on and on about the wonderful staff we have at Town Hall. I am proud to work with these amazing public servants in all of our departments. Please join me in thanking them and recognizing their accomplishments and contributions for our community.

John McCann is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov

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