Public Employee Salute Winners and Luncheon

UPEA is proud to participate in the Public Employee Salute Program.  The idea for the program began in 2009, when a past UPEA executive director noticed that KSL Radio had a special segment to recognize Utah teachers.  The segment is commonly known as the “Teacher Feature.”  However, there was no feature recognizing Utah’s public employees.  The following year, the UPEA and MACU Public Employee Salute program began.

Please consider nominating a coworker for the Public Employee Salute.  Utah taxpayers need to know about the people who do great things behind the scenes.  You can let them know by nominating an outstanding public employee.  Along with public recognition, winners are honored at a semiannual Public Employee Salute Luncheon.

Sgt. Cole McAfee

Sgt. Cole McAfee, who was honored March 15,  is an officer for the Utah State Tax Commission’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division (DMV).  In this position, he verifies vehicle registrations to ensure citizens abide by the law. McAfee uses software that scans vehicle license plates and runs them through the DMV’s vehicle registry.  Two Tax Commission employees rode along with McAfee to observe the software in use.  During the ride-a-long, both were impressed by his mastery of the software as well as his professional demeanor when he encountered routine traffic stops.  One employee said, “Citizens were treated with respect and courtesy, citations and warnings were given in a very professional manner…It is my opinion that Sgt. McAfee is a true professional.”


Jeffrey Oaks

Jeff Oaks, who was honored on March 15, is the bureau manager of food protection for the Salt Lake County Health Department. Oaks has worked for Salt Lake County for the past 18 years.  In his job, Oaks oversees food permits for temporary events, child care facilities, permanent facilities, and food trucks.  Oaks and his team are responsible for making sure that the food being served is properly prepared in kitchens that are up to code. Oaks’ coworkers see him as an excellent example of what it means to be public employee.


 James Piper 

Honored on March 22, James Piper is a training manager for the Division of Child and Family Services.  Piper has worked for the state for the past 25 years.  In his position as a training manager, Piper is responsible for planning and organizing training programs for DCFS employees.  Additionally, Piper is responsible for ensuring that the Division fulfills all of its training objectives and more importantly, complies with any state or federal laws.  One important federal law with which DCFS must comply is the Indian Child and Welfare Act of 1978, which seeks to “preserve and strengthen Indian families and Indian culture.”  Each year, Piper helps lead a conference that highlights this federal law.   Agencies from across the nation attend this conference, presenting an opportunity for Piper  to showcase Utah’s state agencies.


Trenton Grandy

Trenton Grandy, honored on April 19, is a senior forensic scientist for the Department of Public Services, Bureau of Forensic Services. Grandy has worked as a public servant for 26 years.  He began his career at the Department of Corrections, then the Salt Lake City Police Department, before arriving at the Bureau of Forensic Services in 1999.  One of Grandy’s areas of expertise is fingerprints. Specifically, he is an expert latent print analyst.  He has logged in more than 1,500 fingerprint cases.  Many of these cases involve a level of expertise that many analysts do not have, especially when it comes to recovering a fingerprint from bloodied evidence.  Along with being a fingerprint expert, Grandy is an expert in footwear and tire-read impressions.  Grandy has been an expert witness in 200 different cases involving footwear and tire treads, and his testimony has led to convictions in many of these cases.  In addition to the recognition he has gained in Utah, Grandy is also certified in each of these areas by the International Association for Identification (IAI).  He also has taught more than60 training courses for the IAI’s local and regional training sessions.  He has also trained all of the bureau’s current fingerprint analysts, as well as the Salt Lake City Police Department’s footwear and tire-tread analyst.

Tami Jones 

Honored on May 24, Tami Jones is a senior assistant caseworker for the Department of Child and Family Services.  She wears many hats depending upon the situation.  One moment she may be assisting directly with new DCFS clients, while at another moment she may be helping a team member with case documentation.  Jones has many different responsibilities, but she treats each one with the same dedication, always going above and beyond.  Last year a mother, who Jones knew from child and family meetings, came to the DCFS office in fear for her own safety.  The DCFS case worker assigned to her was not in the office, so in her absence Jones helped the distraught mother find a safe place to stay.  Jones also found her clothing and personal items, as well as a ride to the shelter.



Robin Matthews

Robin Matthews, who was honored on May 24, is the utility, permit and licensing clerk for the city of Perry.  She has worked for the city for the past 14 years.  When a citizen wants to build a new home or start a new business in Perry, Matthews is the person they go and see.  Every citizen always remarks on how friendly the office staff is, especially Matthews. Her warm and caring nature is infectious.  “Thank yous” of homemade treat and bouquets are a normal sight around Matthew’s desk. All are from local businesses.  One of her coworkers said it best. “Robin is definitely the light of our office.”


Capt. Gary Larsen

Honored on July 26, Capt. Gary Larsen works at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.  Larsen has worked for the state for more than 27 years.  Currently, he supervises the Elm Housing Unit in the Boulder Complex.  The Elm Housing Unit is unique; the population it houses includes newly incarcerated inmates and inmates that are in “lockdown” situations.  Over the years, Larsen has held numerous positions within the prison, including officer, correctional habilitative specialist and programming lieutenant, and housing captain.  In each of these positions, Larsen helped develop initiatives for the prison.  One of these initiatives was the HOPE Substance Abuse Treatment Unit, a flagship program that Larsen helped implement. It still thrives today. Larsen also helped develop a field-training manual for all newly promoted correctional specialists within the Department of Corrections.  It’s no wonder that current employees, when faced with a challenging situation, ask themselves, “What would Gary do?”

Shelly Ward

Shelly Ward, honored on Aug. 9, is a children’s librarian at the Taylorsville Library.  Ward is constantly looking for new and different individuals and/or groups to entertain Taylorsville Library’s younger patrons and their parents.  While this may seem daunting to some, Ward always finds the perfect presenters.  A dedicated group of mothers and their toddlers and preschoolers come to every “Shelly’s Storytime.”




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