Washington State Penitentiary honors staff members


WALLA WALLA -- Eighteen Washington State Penitentiary employees were honored recently by their colleagues for excellence on the job.

The correctional officers and staff members were recognized at an event last week at the prison.

In a release, the awards and information on those singled out were:

Correctional Officer of the Year -- Robert Slack.

A 12-year veteran, Slack is described as highly respected by his peers and a person who goes out of his way to give a helping hand. His "professional demeanor, attention to detail and his 'can do' attitude are examples for all to follow."

Volunteer of the year -- Arline Finkbiner.

Finkbiner and her husband, Leo, began their volunteer career in the early 1970s along with other members of the Stateline Adventist Church. "Now over 30 years later, Arline is a valuable asset to our volunteer program overseeing the SDA volunteers, ensuring their training is up to date and works closely with the chaplains. She has made her mission a family affair with her son Robert and his wife Kerri as volunteers."

Employee of the Year -- Rick Desmond.

Desmond began his career at the prison in 2004 as a correctional mental health counselor after earning his bachelor's degree at Walla Walla University. He went on to become a staff counselor and recently returned to being a mental health counselor. His "ethical principles are sound and he makes decisions by trying to do the right thing for the right situation, earning him the respect of all staff."

Supervisor of the Year -- Sgt. Dan Morrisette.

In his 34-year career, Morrisette "has spent the last 29 as a sergeant covering all areas of the facility and the knowledge he has gained during his career has made him a great resource." He is currently the shift sergeant in the medium security complex.

Manager of the Year -- Lisa Oliver-Estes.

Oliver-Estes began her career at the prison in 1990 as a mental health intern. Upon completion of her internship she was hired as a correctional mental health counselor. In July 2005, she was promoted to correctional unit supervisor for the close-custody units, while also working as a trainer and facilitator. "She does not just identify problems; she finds solutions."

Life Safety Award of the Year -- David Kimball.

Kimball was honored for his actions in December when he helped capture a man who attacked a woman with a knife at the Walla Walla Kmart. "Hearing the cries for help and using his training in control and verbal tactics, David tackled the man, subduing him until help arrived," the citation for his award said. "I just reacted," Kimball said. "I didn't realize he had a knife until later. I was glad I could help and would do it again if I had to."

Safety Recognition Award -- Jerry Dunleavy.

A 30-year veteran at the penitentiary, Dunleavy has worked tirelessly on the safety committee since its inception. "He is always looking for solutions to replace or upgrade worn out equipment (and) he is a 'fixer' and works to ensure that equipment is maintained to prevent it from becoming worn and unsafe.

Community Service Award -- Toni Alvarado-Jackson.

Alvarado-Jackson's dedication to the community includes not only working full-time at the penitentiary, but also as a Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy. She also serves as president of the Washington State Penitentiary Employee's Associate, a member of the prison's Diversity Advisory Committee, Veteran's Committee and Violence Reduction Team. In addition she is a YWCA board member and works with the staff and residents at the farm labor camp.

Health Service Supervisor of the Year -- Richard Cross.

Cross has been employed at the penitentiary since 1996. He is the supervisor for outpatient services and has been part of the prison's Emergency Response Team since June 2006 as the medical liaison. He also teaches cardiopulmonary resuscitation to staff at the prison and at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.

Health Services Employee of the Year -- April Scott, RN.

After starting at the penitentiary four years ago, Scott now spends much of her time in the prison's mental health units providing sick call and assisting in the clinic.

Medical Contract Staff of the Year -- Glen Silver.

Silver's background in the medical field has been focused on preventive cardiology and sports medicine. He received his master's degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Washington State University. When not working as a nurse practitioner, Silver volunteers with USA Cycling as an Olympic talent development coach and a coach for the Whitman College.

Correctional Industries Staff of the Year -- Lin Davin.

Davin "always presents himself in a professional manner, with a positive attitude, becoming the model for both staff and offenders to follow. He leads by example and takes pride in a job well done. He has worked on many design projects and put great care into the detail of the finished product."

Walla Walla Community College Contract Staff of the Year -- Travis Watts.

As the Carpentry Program instructor, Watts has worked to develop "a very respectable program at the penitentiary." He and his crew have worked on three Habitat for Humanity homes in the community, teaching the offenders the value of community service along with a viable trade. "With attention to detail and his high expectations, he is a very positive role model for the offenders."

Also receiving awards this year were:

Positive Attitude Award -- Correctional Officer Rick Heilbrun.

Superintendent's Leadership Award -- Associate Superintendent Chris Bowman.

Extra Mile Award -- Safety Officer Johnny Watts.

Innovation Award -- Health Care Manager Kyle King.

Cost Savings Award -- Engineer Rick Howerton.


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