Washington State Penitentiary honors staffers

Angela Branscum has been named employee of the year and Rick Heilbrun has been named correctional officer of the year.


WALLA WALLA -- Twelve Washington State Penitentiary staff members are being honored next week for their contributions at work and to the community.

The staff members will be recognized during the annual award presentations Tuesday at the prison. In addition, three staff members, Angela Branscum, Rick Heilbrun and Shirley Scott, will receive statewide recognition for their contributions at the Department of Correction's annual agency awards later this month in Tumwater, Wash.

In addition, a number of Washington State Penitentiary members and local DOC workers will also be recognized by the department for their participation as part of the Critical Incident Stress Management Team for this area.

In a release, WSP Superintendent Steve Sinclair said the staff members were nominated by their peers to recognize their achievements. "It is an opportunity for us to say 'Thank You' for their hard work and dedication to our facility," he said.

This year's honorees are:

Employee of the Year

Angela Branscum's first encounter with the Department of Corrections was while servicing soft drink vending machines at the penitentiary. "It was there she came in contact with correctional staff who continually described working at the penitentiary as an exciting and rewarding job," said Shari Hall, prison spokeswoman. "She was intrigued by their positive attitude and their camaraderie. In November of 2001, Angela started her career at WSP as a correctional officer."

Branscum was promoted to Correctional Unit Supervisor in May of last year and was an integral part of transforming the penitentiary's East Complex (also known as the "Old Main") into a minimum custody facility. Hall said that Branscum "would like the public to know that working within the Department of Corrections is a very tough and challenging job. We take our commitment to keeping our communities safe very seriously."

Correctional Officer of the Year

Rick Heilbrun has been a dedicated officer for over 34 years, beginning his career at Washington State Penitentiary in 1978. He has used his experience as a correctional officer to assist with new officer training and mentoring and in that capacity conducts himself as a professional role model with high expectations and qualities.

"Watching Rick's interactions with other staff and with offenders, it is obvious that he is respected for the job he does and his ability to build positive relationships," Hall said. "He has a great sense of humor and is consistent day in and day out. He is a positive role model for all staff and is willing to help others succeed."

Rick's father, Henry Heilbrun, worked as a correctional officer in 1951 until the time of his death in 1970.

Volunteer of the Year

Shirley Scott began her volunteer career at WSP in 2009 as the trainer for the Canine Training Program at the prison. She assisted staff in preparing for the program and instructing prisoners who volunteered to be trainers to learn to teach the dogs basic obedience and prepare them for adoption.

The program has since expanded and Shirley is a tireless, devoted and dedicated volunteer who thoroughly enjoys her work, Hall said. "Many dogs have benefited from this program and now have good homes and loving families. It is evident by Shirley's dedication and commitment to this program, that she loves animals and wants the best for them."

Manager of the Year

While attending college, Shane Loper was hired at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where he performed environmental and hazardous waste management work. In July 2003, he began his career with the Department of Corrections was as an environmental specialist and in September 2009 he was promoted to plant manager.

Loper has successfully complete a large number of projects in recent years, including helping to design and build the "cross-buck" fence along 13th Avenue along with the grand entrance replication. Through his creativity and utilizing resources, he was able to save taxpayers thousands of dollars on various projects, Hall said.

Supervisor of the Year

Lisa Morrow began her career in 2004 as an office assistant and in July 2011 she was promoted to the position of office support supervisor. "Lisa's dedication to her role is evident by her participation among many committees and events at the penitentiary," Hall said. "She is a hands-on supervisor who does not expect anything out of her staff that she is not willing to do. She leads by example with her work ethic and her positive attitude."

Correctional Industries Staff of the Year

Tim Allington began his career with the penitentiary began in the warehouse as a supply control technician in 2000. This led him to become the assistant business manager with Correctional Industries in 2009. "He melds well with anyone he works with and is always ready to lend a hand, always looking for the best approach to any issue," Hall said.

Health Services Employee of the Year

As a psychology associate in the prison's south Intensive Management Unit, Walter End works closely with inmates who have various mental health issues. This requires him to work with numerous outside agencies to assist offenders preparing for release. In this role, he conducts a re-entry group for inmates being released to the community to assist them with basic needs such as housing, recovery, employment, financial management and other issues that have hindered their success in the past.

"Walt is a great asset to WSP, excelling at difficult tasks and never making excuses. He can always be counted on," Hall said.

Medical Contract Staff of the Year

Dr. Scott Newbold has come to the penitentiary for many years to perform outpatient surgical procedures. "He is patient, thoughtful and a joy to work with," Hall said." Dr. Newbold is greatly appreciated for the excellent and dependable services he provides WSP."

WWCC Contract Staff of the Year

Shelly Demianew is the main liaison between the prison and the educational records department on the Walla Walla Community College main campus, a job that requires close communication between the main campus and sharing accurate information with other staff. She started her career in 1986 as an office assistant and is now the program coordinator.

"Shelly is always reliable to share her support in many areas. She coordinates information with the faculty, interprets policy and takes the time to show staff how to complete tasks. She is willing to adapt to new ideas. She has a positive work ethic and a humorous personality, which her co-workers enjoy," Hall said.

Community Service Staff of the Year

Charles "Chuck" Pease has been a volunteer in Milton-Freewater since he was a child. He started as a volunteer with the Special Olympics as an adolescent and works to recruit countless other community-minded people.

He has volunteered for over 27 years with the Youth Football program and has just completed his first season as the head football coach for the Milton-Freewater Pioneers. Chuck has been a referee officiating football, softball, and baseball for over 21 years. From 1986 to 2008 he coached wrestling in the Milton-Freewater Junior High and High School.

Chuck has worked on numerous community fund raisers to support the local schools and foundations. He is a past board member of his local church. Chuck has shown a life-long diligence and service to the community.

Life Safety Award Winner

Jackie Brannan is being recognized for her actions on Feb. 12, when she came upon a serious crash on Highway 11 while on her way to work. A tractor-trailer had crushed a small car with a mother and small child in the back seat. Brannan stopped and jumped into the car and stabilized the mother and child until emergency workers arrived.

Brannan began her career at the penitentiary in 2007 after the retirement of her father, a correctional officer.

Safety Recognition

Dean Dean began his career at the penitentiary Jan. 25, 2001 as a correctional officer. Within 10 months he was offered a position in the Engineering Department where he is still employed today. In his spare time, he is a reserve officer for Columbia County and Umatilla County.

"Dean takes pride in a job well done and is always willing to go the extra mile. In the past couple of years Dean has played an integral part in developing a fall protection program, with his professionalism and attention to detail this program is a great asset to WSP. We look forward to his future contributions regarding safety compliance for his department and the institution as a whole," Hall said.

Critical Incident Stress Management Team

Washington State Penitentiary and local DOC staff members being recognized are:

Joni Aiyeku, WSP administrative assistant; Peter Beck, WSP psychology associate; Linda Belanger, WSP Correctional Housing unit manager; Dennis Bendixsen, WSP correction officer; Benjamin Brink, Community Corrections supervisor, Walla Walla Field Office; Kevin Davis, WSP correction officer; Joshua Dodd, WSP correction officer; Ben Fraire, WSP correction officer; Chase Harvey, WSP correction officer; Julie Mason, WSP Registered Nurse; Shane Miller, WSP psychology associate; Kenneth Mitchell, WSP correction officer; Gary Pierce, WSP correctional specialist; David Prock, WSP correction officer; Thomas Roe, WSP psychology associate, and Gary Timms, WSP investigator.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

Click here to sign in