Employees recognized for 852 years of service to Tribe

By Danielle Frost

Sixty-eight employees were honored for a combined 852 years of service to the Grand Ronde Tribe during a third-quarter Years of Service ceremony held on Thursday, Oct. 12, in the Tribal gym.

Leading those honored in longevity was Natural Resources’ Timber and Roads Program Manager Jeff Kuust, who reached the 28-year mark in working for the Tribe.

Photo by Michelle Alaimo Tribal Timber and Roads Program Manager Jeff Kuust shakes hands with Tribal Council member Michael Langley during the third-quarter Years of Service event held in the Tribal gym on Thursday, Oct. 12. Kuust was recognized for his 28 years of working for the Tribe. Also there congratulating employees were Tribal Council members Jack Giffen Jr., left, Denise Harvey, second from left, Lisa Leno, fourth from left, Kathleen George, fifth from left, and Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier, right. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)

Joining him in the quarter-century or more club were Natural Resources Manager Michael Wilson and Finance Officer Chris Leno, who both reached 25 years of service. Higher Education Manager Bryan Langley notched 26 years and Health Benefits Specialist Barbara Steere, Staff Accountant Melanie Hubbard and Procurement Assistant Kelly Leno attained 27 years apiece.

Tribal Attorney Rob Greene notched his 23rd year of employment, Assistant Tribal Attorney Kim D’Aquila reached the 21-year mark of service and Cultural Adviser Bobby Mercier reached 20 years.

Third-quarter recipients were hired between July and September.

Employees received certificates and bonus checks in appreciation for their increasing tenure with the Tribe. In addition, those reaching the 10-year mark received a Tribal Pendleton blanket or an extra $100 in their bonus check.

The ceremony began with an invocation from Tribal Council member Kathleen George.

Tribal Historic Preservation Office Manager David Harrelson gave a brief historical presentation on trade between Pacific Northwest Indian Nations, and then employees were treated to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, biscuits, bananas, yogurt, and juices and coffee to drink.

Breakfast was served by Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez, Public Affairs Administrative Assistant Chelsea Clark, Food Sustainability Administrative Assistant Patricia LeClaire, Tribal Council Administrative Assistant Shannon Simi and Economic Development Administrative Assistant Meghan Zimbrick.

Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier said that council tends to get a lot of credit, but staff does most of the work.

“I can’t imagine how much more difficult out lives would be without you,” Mercier said. “I know some of you have made your careers here and that is great. Thank you for all that you do.”

Mercier also acknowledged other Tribal Council members in attendance, which included Kathleen George, Jack Griffen Jr., Denise Harvey, Michael Langley, Lisa Leno and Brenda Tuomi.

Other employees honored during the third-quarter event included:

19 years: Head Start Teacher Toni Lockwood, Family Services Assistant Elaine Lane Raven and Dental Hygienist Sheila Blacketer.

18 years: Procurement Supervisor Kevin Mueller.

17 years: Elementary Lead Matthew Bucknell, Senior Network Administrator Jack Dobiash, Tribal Court Judicial Assistant Julie Boekhoff and Grand Ronde Police Department Records/Evidence Clerk Egypt Leno.

16 years: Security Officer Roel Hernandez and Education Senior Administrative Assistant Deborah Bachman.

15 years: Part-time College Program Coordinator John Harp, Audit Director Trudi Yoshikawa, Natural Resources Machine Equipment Operator Mark Mercier and Treasury Manager Rick Andersen.

14 years: Benefits Specialist Peggy Carpenter, Nutrition Program Manager Kristy DeLoe and Ceded Lands Coordinator Brandy Humphreys.

13 years: Enrollment Specialist Jolanda Catabay, Health Information Technician Stephanie Simmons, Tribal Council Administrative Assistant Shannon Simi, Finance Executive Assistant Ken Trevino and Employment Specialist Brandy Hembree.

12 years: Housing Services Coordinator Deborah Kroeker and Purchased/Referred Care Specialist Erica Mercier.

11 years: Graphic Designer George Valdez.

10 years: Central Phones Operator Scarlett Holtz, Senior Help Desk Technician Alec Palanuk-Mercier, GIS Coordinator Volker Mell, Publications Coordinator Dean Rhodes and TERO Workforce Development Specialist Misty Carl.

9 years: Controller Linda Hanna and Lead Pharmacy Technician Kandee Little.

8 years: Patient Account Representative Kayla Leno.

7 years: Maintenance Technician Jason Bailey, Health Information Technician Amanda McMahon, TERO Compliance Officer Marvin “Duke” Kimsey Jr., TERO Administrative Assistant Lori Sterling, Cultural Collections Coordinator Veronica Montano, Education Department Manager Angie Blackwell, Housing Maintenance Technician Michael Lane, Adult and Family Services Supervisor Amber Amouak and Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson.

6 years: Early Head Start Home VisitorAmber Mercier, Youth Education Administrative Assistant Amber Yates, Cultural Resources Project Development Manager Julie Brown, Laboratory Manager Sharon Laddusaw, Medical Technologist Staci Robbins, Legal Secretary Susan June and Economic Development Administrative Assistant Meghan Zimbrick.

5 years: Child and Family Services Caseworker Tara Verner, Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez, 477 Employment and Training Specialist Angey Rideout, Registered Nurse Tashina Blair, Spirit Mountain Community Fund Grants Coordinator Julia Willis, Senior Telecommunications Technician Mark Scheelar, Mailroom Clerk Anna White, Parks and Recreation Specialist Jerry Bailey and Forest Technician Andrew Puerini.

Human Resources staff members and General Manager David Fullerton also raffled off prizes that included Amazon Kindle Fires, a Fitbit, Polaroid Cube, crockpot, fire pit, HP Notebook Touch and extra administrative time.