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Honor a surprise to forestry chief; he credits staff

Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger Gene "Hal" Sharpe recently was named Employee of the Year during the third annual Governor's Customer Service Awards Banquet held at the World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Mr. Sharpe, who oversees the McDuffie-Warren Unit of the Georgia Forestry Commission, said he felt honored to have been recognized but wishes it had been his entire team.

"It's kind of non-deserving for me as an individual," Mr. Sharpe said during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror on Monday.

"I would have felt better if it had been my entire team being recognized for this honor, because they are the ones that actually made this happen and I'm not being modest when I say that because they all do such a fine job."

He noted that he had been fortunate to come to the McDuffie-Warren Unit and have a staff there so well trained and qualified to handle any situation that might arise.

"They really make my job so much easier," Mr. Sharpe said. "They do an excellent job.

"And that goes for customer service, too."

At the awards banquet, which Mr. Sharpe attended with one of his fellow rangers, John Crawford Jr., of Thomson, Mr. Sharpe said he never imagined it would be him to be honored by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

"I couldn't believe it," said Mr. Sharpe, who celebrated his 46th birthday Thursday.

"I was really in disbelief."

Earlier he had made comments Mr. Crawford that he didn't think he would be a finalist, because there were so many other nominees.

At one point, he noticed that his name wasn't even on the list of those being called out.

Mr. Sharpe said he didn't even recall his name finally be called until Georgia Forestry Commission Director Bob Farris "punched him in the back."

Even as he left from his table to accept the honor from Mr. Perdue, Mr. Sharpe said he couldn't believe it was really happening.

"It's a real big honor and I accept it on behalf of my staff," added Mr. Sharpe.

Mr. Sharpe, who has worked for the Georgia Forestry Commission for the past 25 years, was nominated for the award by local unit secretary Laverne Davis, who lives in Thomson.

"The reason I nominated him is because he cares so much about us as individuals," Ms. Davis said.

"He's the type of boss you like working for because he's understanding and one of the most honest people I've ever known."

Web posted on Thursday, October 08, 2009

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