CEDAR RAPIDS — This year’s annual court service awards were presented earlier this month to clerks, court attendants and court reporters for their dedication, service and loyalty to the 6th Judicial District.
The district judges honor the employees for their service each year. They are the only district that has continued to do a ceremony and reception like this since the state stopped paying for awards following the 2001 budget cuts. The judges pay for the awards and small gifts for the employees of the 6th district, who work in Linn, Johnson, Iowa, Jones, Benton and Tama counties.
This year’s top five award recipients, nominated by co-workers and supervisors:
• Distinguished Service Award went to Barb Bigelow, a trial court supervisor in Johnson County. She has been with the clerk’s office for more than 40 years, working in different positions throughout the years. She was nominated by two co-workers, Tammie Christiansen and Kim Montover.
“She is not only a great teacher, she is a great sounding board,” Christiansen said in her nomination letter. “When I have a question about a procedure, she can always tell me not only how something should be done but why. She will listen to what I have to say and give honest feedback.”
Montover, Johnson County clerk of court, said: “The secret to Barb’s success is her unyielding hard work and dedication. The 6th district has many hard working and dedicated people, but only a few can claim that distinction who has served as long as she has. She prides herself in the quality of her work and insists the work product of the office is produced in compliance and in proper form.”
• Employee of the Year went to Tammie Van Bogart. She just retired last month after serving 40 years in the district as a court reporter. Judge Lars Anderson nominated her for the award. She had worked as his court reporter since 2014 and for many other judges over the years.
Anderson, in his nomination letter, said Van Bogart is a “very hard worker, team player, willing to go above and beyond when needed, efficient and knowledgeable.
“Further, Tammy has a great sense of humor that contributes to making her a pleasure for me and others to work with on a daily basis,” Anderson said. “She also has been a strong advocate for court reporters and the judicial branch as a whole.”
• Public Service Award went to Savannah “Vannie” Hanning. She has been a court attendant in Linn County since September 2013 and was nominated by co-worker, Jayne Merges.
“Vannie always has a smile and loves to talk to people about anything,” Merges, in her nomination letter, said. “Vannie shows a strong commitment to her job as a court attendant for the administrative judge. Vannie has significantly improved court services and the public image of the court at the county or district level.”
• Teamwork Award went to Amy Greiner. She has been a law clerk with the district since 2002. She is the only law clerk to have a position at the district court level, and she recently was promoted to staff attorney. Judge Mitchell Turner nominated her.
“Amy has been serving the 6th district longer than any sitting judicial officer, other than Judge Grady, and in her way has trained every judge in the district,” Turner said. “She has trained dozens of other law clerks over the years: showed them the ropes, mentored them ... educated them subtly on the quirks of the judges. She never brags or toots her horn. Amy is an invaluable asset to our district.”
During periods of budget cuts, Greiner has been the only law clerk for 21 judges, Turner pointed out. If someone announced Greiner was leaving for some reason, it would “cause a panic similar to someone shouting ‘shark’ at a beach.”
• Friend of the Court Award went to Judy Breja. She is the community treatment coordinator for the Intensive Pretrial Jail Diversion and Mental Health Re-entry programs of the 6 Judicial District Department of Correctional Services in Linn and Benton counties.
“She goes above and beyond to try and make things better for the community,” Julie Hessenius, Benton/Iowa county clerk of court, said in her nomination letter. “She is very passionate about her job and works very hard to get things done. She has been working with Benton County towards implementing a pre-commitment screening program that will help people that are in need of services but aren’t in need of the full commitment process. It is a long process, but she is pushing forward and overcoming every snag that we come upon. If we had more people like Judy working to fix our broken system, it would be an easy fix.”
During the ceremony, 18 other employees were recognized for years of service, including five for 40 years and one for 45 years.
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