Public Employee Salute Winners

The Utah Public Employees’ Association(UPEA) is proud to participate in the Public Employee Salute Program. A former UPEA executive director conceived the idea for the program after noticing that KSL Radio had a special “Teacher Feature” segment to recognize Utah teachers.  There was no feature recognizing Utah’s public employees, so he following year, the UPEA and Mountain America Credit Union Public Employee Salute program began.

The following individuals have been nominated and recognized with the Public Employee Salute for their hard work for the state of Utah.

August 2018

Roger Whitear

Roger Whitear is an employment counselor at the Department of Workforce Services South Davis Employment Center. He has worked for the state for 20 years. Whitear is “stationed” at the front desk. He greets and helps those who enter the doors. He is the first person customers see when they arrive and the last when they leave. He knows many customers by name and takes care of their needs immediately. In turn, DWS customers know Whitear by name, and if he is not at the front desk, they ask for him. Whitear takes the time to find out what customers’ needs are, and instead of handing them off to someone else, he tries to assist them. He has helped individuals fill out tedious applications and fax mountainloads of documents to the appropriate department, and he does this all with a smile. He is kind and understanding, and easily expresses empathy for customers. Whitear always tries to assist his coworkers and make their jobs simple and enjoyable. He makes sure printers are full of paper, copy machines are working properly, and that all tools and supplies needed are in order. Whitear truly understands the concept of customer service and he demonstrates this every day.

Clarice Garcia

Clarice Garcia is a case worker for the Department of Human Services. Garcia has worked for the state for nine years. She goes above and beyond to work with community partners and have her clients’ needs met. She is very organized in her job duties and is known to color code each case, exemplifying her creative skills. This also helps her remember different cases. Garcia is friendly, and willing to offer any coworker advice if needed. She goes on to show support to the families she works with, and helps them identify formal and informal resources. She recently worked on a case that had been open for several years that had encountered varying setbacks. Her consistent dedication with the case proved successful as she was able to find a permanent home and close the case with a successful sibling adoption. On her off time, Garcia enjoys volunteering for the Girl Scouts, leading her own troop. When she is not busy with work or her troop, she spends time with her family.

Bonnie Wilder-Estes

Bonnie Wilder-Estes’ zeal for doing forensic science is unparalleled in the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services (UBFS). It is safe to say that she lives for doing forensics. Wilder-Estes has been with UBFS since 2005, when she first interned with the Bureau’s Identification (ID) Section, while at the same time finishing her bachelor’s degree in criminalistics at Weber State University. She soon gained employment as a forensic specialist for the Bureau’s Evidence Section in 2006 and has since progressed to her current position as a senior forensic scientist with the ID section. Wilder-Estes primarily works as a fingerprint analyst, and she is one of the ID Section’s top producers. In her tenure with the ID Section, Wilder-Estes worked more than 1,800 fingerprint cases. Some of her more notable recent cases include helping to identify a murderer, leading to his apprehension just hours before he boarded a plane out of the country. In another recent case, Wilder-Estes’s ingenuity led to identifying an unknown individual who had been burned beyond recognition. In both instances, Wilder-Estes interrupted her normal duties and personal life to get the identifications necessary for a quick resolution to these cases. In addition to her duties as a fingerprint analyst, Bonnie acts as a team leader for the Bureau’s Crime Scene Response Team. She is also an instructor for the annual Crime Scene Specialist Training and the Fingerprint Detection, Enhancement and Collection courses. She is recently finishing her own training to become qualified as a bloodstain pattern analyst, the first that the bureau has had in the past five years. True to the level of professionalism that she exemplifies, Wilder-Estes is certified both as a latant print examiner and as a crime scene analyst with the International Association for Identification (IAI). Wilder-Estes is an active member of the IAI, and has served locally on nearly every board position, including president of the Utah chapter of IAI. In addition to her duties with the Bureau of Forensic Services, Wilder-Estes for the past four years has served as an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University. There, she teaches classes in fingerprint processing, crime scene investigation and blood stain pattern analysis. Wilder-Estes’s enthusiasm, coupled with her propensity to expand her professional horizons and willingness to sacrifice her personal time, make her an outstanding public employee.

Julie Stark-John

Julie Stark-John is a Department of Human Services (DHS) caseworker for the Division of Child and Family Services. She has worked for the state for four years. Stark-John has gone above and beyond in her responsibilities as a caseworker. She will always go out of her way to make sure that the children and parents she works with know that she cares about them, wants to help and has the children’s best interests at heart. Stark-John is always positive, and has a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone. She has a great sense of humor and always makes others laugh and smile. She has a way about her that quickly puts people at ease. Stark-John is organized, pays attention to detail, and she always remembers the things that you have told her. If you have a question for her, she has the answer. When you interact with Stark-John, she never makes you feel rushed or that you are a burden. She is awesome about answering texts, emails or phone calls even if it means taking her time after hours to help you or answer a question. Another great quality that Stark-John possesses is her desire to better understand her clients and their individual needs. She has a gift of communicating and explaining things in a way that each individual understands. Being involved with DCFS and the court system can be a scary and uncomfortable situation for a child or their parents, but Stark-John has a way of making others feel safe, comfortable, and cared about. She is not only an incredible caseworker but an all-around genuinely good person.

September 2018

Raymond Caldwell

Raymond Caldwell is an administrative support manager at the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS). He works diligently to further the public trust in his role as facility manager for DWS. Caldwell guides his team of facility coordinators, support service coordinators, and purchasing agents, ensuring that facilities are maintained for appearance and function, and that staff has the needed equipment and technology to perform necessary tasks. He ensures that taxpayers are able to access services in a comfortable, clean, and safe environment. Ray emphasizes efforts to use taxpayer money wisely. Consistency in furniture purchases affords the ability to maintain a small storage of furnishings that can work in a myriad of locations as needed for staff turnover. Caldwell ensures an accurate inventory is valued to ensure adequate insurance coverage, reducing premium costs for an overestimated value. He coordinates needed capital improvements to maintain the function and safety of staff and consumers.

Lee Thompson

Lee Thompson is an electronics tech II for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). After more than 20 years in maintenance, Thompson has eagerly learned a new field and is willing to take on any task assigned. In addition to dealing with traffic signals, school crossings, flashing signs, and roadway lighting, and locating blue stakes, Thompson has recently become proficient in troubleshooting CCTV cameras as well as traffic counting, monitoring stations, message signs, and fiber/radio communications. When ATMS devices were added to Thompson’s responsibilities, he enthusiastically applied himself to learning all he can to maintain these systems. Thompson often takes phone calls at all hours of the day and night to answer questions in his areas of expertise, as well as to respond to unsafe traffic conditions. He is always concerned about keeping himself and his co-workers safe and out of harm’s way. Thompson is always willing to ensure the people of Utah get a quality product from the contractors.


Tom Cox

Tom Cox is an engineer for the Utah Division of Water Resources. For 28 years, he has been using his knowledge to improve the state, and currently specializes in dam safety work. He has gained coworkers’ admiration for the great job he does. Cox works on various dam safety-related projects, and is working on the upgrading of Millsite Reservoir, among others. Cox is respected for the volunteer work he does. He involves his family in projects such as volunteering at the Utah Food Bank every month. Cox is also noted for donating blood regularly and supports the Blue Sky Program for new energy technology.  He is known for being conscientious about the work he does and for getting along with everyone. He is also known to be a snappy dresser.

Kathy Holder

Kathy Holder, a Utah state employee for 15 years, is a Utah floodplain manager for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. She has exceeded everyone’s expectations for the work she does. Holder works tirelessly for the state. Not only does she commit to her duties during the day, but she is readily available to take calls at night, attend late night meetings, and work weekends. Her dedication shines through and her work ethic is incomparable. In the time she has worked for the state, she has distinguished herself as a true professional, and represents the citizens of Utah with attention. Holder’s commitment to Utah is tremendous and doesn’t go unnoticed.


October 2018

Tanya Schwemmer

Tanya Schwemmer is a permanency specialist for the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). She has been with the state for two years. Schwemmer is described as always being cheerful and positive. Coworkers never see her without a smile; she always gives a friendly greeting. She is recognized for how she interacts with her clients. She advocates for them in any way she can, presenting a friendly but professional manner. Schwemmer is patient, kind, listens well, is understanding, and genuinely cares about her clients whether they are young or old. Schwemmer goes out of her way to acknowledge the good she sees. Her work is detail oriented and specific. She makes sure all her work is done to the best of her ability and completed on time. Schwemmer is surrounded by employees who admire her positive nature and kind heart.

Sharlene Thomas

Sharlene Thomas is an administrative assistant for the Biology Department at Salt Lake Community College. Thomas is admired for her willingness to help anyone who needs it. She always volunteers to usher at graduations, hand out literature to employees at convocation, assist on committees, and help individual employees with software problems, among many other tasks. When asked to be a member of a planning committee for Secretary Day events, she gladly volunteered. Thomas had many ideas and helped come up with keynote speakers and trainers to present on topics. She is known for being reliable and committed, resulting in her being asked to join other committees. Thomas can be counted on for her professional opinion and for great connections and ideas. As an employee, Thomas is smart, dependable, and a real team player. She is a friend to all, and greets each person with a warm, approachable smile. If she doesn’t have information you need, she knows where to find it, and quickly. Thomas is an honest, fair person, always striving to do the right thing.

Kristine Bradley

Kristine Bradley is a supervisor at the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) and has worked for DWS for 20 years. Bradley is admired by employees for her leadership and supervisory skills. She listens with care and concern not only to her employees but also to DWS customers. Bradley goes out of her way to support her direct charges and treats them all as individuals. She has great interest in their success, not only as employees but also as individuals with personal goals. She encourages further education by providing opportunities for participation at conferences and workshops to enhance employees’ skills and prepare them to be promoted and take on more responsibility. She is patient, and demonstrates a positive, yet gentle demeanor. Bradley is knowledgeable and proficient in the people skills she has obtained through her years at DWS. Bradley has learned all the programs she supervises and does not hesitate to step in and cover appointments as needed. She is kind and considerate and will go out of her way to assist everyone.


UPEA congratulates all of its Public Employee Salutes and thanks them for their extraordinary work for the state of Utah. The Public Employee Salute is an ongoing program UPEA is proud to be a part of. Please nominate any fellow coworkers who you believe deserve recognition for their hard work.