Growth Fund awards top safety performers in 2012

Safety and Training Coordinator Dan Jefferson (right) was awarded first place by the Safety & Environmental Compliance Management Group.
Pat Morrissey (right), vice-president of Regional Divisions for Growth Fund Properties
Safety and Training Coordinator Dan Jefferson (right) was awarded first place by the Safety & Environmental Compliance Management Group. Executive Director of the Southern Growth Fund Bruce Valdez presented all nominees and winners their certificates and awards at the Sky Ute Casino Resort, Thursday, Feb. 28.
Pat Morrissey (right), vice-president of Regional Divisions for Growth Fund Properties, was a nominee selected by his peers and was awarded a certificate from the Safety & Environmental Compliance Management Group and Executive Director Bruce Valdez of the Southern Growth Fund.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

Dan Jefferson, safety and training coordinator for the Red Cedar Gathering Co., received the first-place Southern Ute Growth Fund 2012 Safety & Environmental Achievement Award on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Sky Ute Casino Resort.

“It’s a humbling experience. We come to work and do our job, and it’s an honor to be recognized for doing a good job,” he said during the Growth Fund’s first Safety & Environmental Achievement Award Banquet. “There’s a misconception about EHS [Environmental, Health & Safety]. EHS is not the enforcer of safety; we provide the tools and trainings, but it’s up to the supervisors and managers to enforce the safety and [ensure] that the rules and policies are followed by their employees.”

Jefferson started as an apprentice with West Gas in 1990 and stayed on when Red Cedar acquired the company in 1994. He served as plant operator from 1994 to 1998, then as operations supervisor from 1998 to 1999. He began work with Environmental, Health and Safety as process safety manager coordinator at the Arkansas Loop treating plant west of Ignacio from 1999 to 2001.

Serving as manager of plant operations from 2001 to 2005, Jefferson then became safety and training coordinator in 2005, responsible for an apprentice program. Jefferson also oversees computer-based safety training programs across the company.

Albert Brown, president and chief operating officer of Red Cedar, nominated Jefferson. Brown said he’s worked with Jefferson on several projects.

Jefferson was crucial in implementing a safety glass program and the Fire Retardant Clothing Program for Red Cedar, Brown said. Jefferson also helped reduce deer-strike incidents through the Smith Defensive Driving Program, he said

Jefferson conducts annual site inspections, ensuring the company is adhering to federal regulations through the Spill Preventions Control Countermeasures Program, which reduces the impact on the environment and ensures sites returned to their previous states.

For his prize, Jefferson received a plaque, a jacket embroidered with the Southern Ute tribal seal, and a $150 Cabela’s gift card.

The awards have been given since 2005, and up until this year, the awards were presented to the winners either at their offices or in regular safety meetings. Woomer said he wants to make the banquet an annual event.

Last year’s first place winner was in Texas, and Woomer flew down personally to give the award.

Lynn Woomer, manager of the Safety & Environmental Compliance Management Group

Lynn Woomer, manager of the Safety & Environmental Compliance Management Group, coordinated and was the master of ceremonies of the awards banquet Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Sky Ute Casino Resort. Photo Robert L. Ortiz/The Southern Ute Drum

The Southern Ute Growth Fund strives to maintain safety, “ensuring all operations are conducted in a safe and environmentally conscientious manner and achieving full compliance with existing safety and environmental laws, rules, regulations and performance standards.”

“All the nominees are winners, and they exemplify the policy of EHS,” said Lynn Woomer, regulatory compliance manager of the Growth Fund’s Safety & Environmental Compliance Management Group. “There is no compromise when complying with EHS, and the Growth Fund will adhere to all existing laws and policies.”

Executive Director Bruce Valdez said safety has been a priority since the inception of the Growth Fund.

“I believe in safety from the top down,” he said. “Our goal has always been to be safe … and to send everyone home.”

Steve Van Houton, construction coordinator for Red Cedar, received the second-place award.

Director of Engineering Tom Weinheimer, who nominated Van Houton, said he “was doing a good job, and that warrants recognition.”

Weinheimer lauded Van Houton’s constant contact with contractors and all members of a project, saying he goes beyond “the ABCs of the permit” to anticipate and prevent problems early.

“Steve takes care of the land. … He strives to preserve the land and the reputation of Red Cedar and the tribe, to be the caretakers of the land,” he said. “The tribe and Red Cedar trust Steve to do a good job.”

The third-place winner was Glen Anderson, a wastewater plant operator for the Southern Ute Utilities Division. Nominator Fred Robyns, himself a 2008 safety award recipient, acknowledged Glen as a “top hand” during years of working together.

As manager of tribal utilities, Anderson established a strict methodology working within the standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2007, the division received the EPA’s Clean Water Act Recognition Award for its operation and maintenance of a wastewater treatment facility.

“The tribe received an award for best advanced water-treatment plant, and Anderson had a strong role in that recognition by setting up the maintenance program,” Robyns said. “He has a strong personality, a tenacious ability to focus — an extraordinary thing. Ten seconds or 10 days, he was going to get the job the done. It was certain it to be accomplished successfully.”

Other 2012 nominees included Jeff Bowman, Jared DeWitt, Jake Harter, Steve Marker, Pat Morrisey and Wayne VanDenberg. All nominees received a framed certificate and a $50 Cabela’s gift card.

“Congratulations to all the nominees and award winners,” Valdez said. “As executive director and a tribal member, the job you put forth is well appreciated by me and others.”

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