NCDA&CS employees receive awards for actions in extraordinary circumstances

by | Mar 6, 2020

Recently the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recognized two teams of employees for extraordinary service. The employees received “Excellence in Team Accomplishment” awards.

A rescue from floodwaters

One team was more specifically a pair. Matthew Massey and Jordan Johnson earned recognition for saving a driver from floodwaters.

Matthew Massey and Jordan Johnson with the boat they used to rescue a driver in flood waters.

Their actions date back to the fall of 2018, when Hurricane Florence flooded areas around the Cherry Research Station in Goldsboro. When waters from the Neuse River rose to historic levels, parts of the research station flooded.

The area of the livestock units were dry, but they were surrounded by water. That meant staff members at the station had to use boats to access those areas and care for the livestock. Massey and Johnson were part of that work, and on the morning of September 17, 2018, they were boating workers to and from the livestock units.

Just as they were returning from their first run, they saw a dangerous situation unfolding. A paved road beside the research station fields was also flooded, but a car had apparently driven past a barricade. The current pushed that car, with the driver inside, off of the road and about 150 yards into one of the research station fields.

The road that flooded along the side of the Cherry Research Station in September of 2018.

Law enforcement had responded, and they were trying to get down the flooded road. Matthew and Jordan quickly figured out that they could safely help, so they turned their boat toward the car. They were able to make their way over and pull the driver out of that precarious situation.

The roof of the car can be seen in the distance of this photo – washed far off the road beyond a fire hydrant.

There’s really no way to know what could have happened if they hadn’t acted quickly and selflessly to save that driver.

A season of unsurpassed activity

The other team recently recognized included 69 employees – many from the department’s Veterinary Division, but also other employees who worked with them during special circumstances. Those circumstances involved six major overlapping projects from July to December of 2018.
The team dubbed “Veterinary Division and Friends”was involved in the following:

  • the World Equestrian Games at the Tryon International Equestrian Center
  • the Western North Carolina Mountain State Fair
  • Hurricane Florence Response
  • the State Fair in Raleigh
  • African swine fever preparations
  • and a winter storm in December of 2018

Multiple projects meant multiple goals, and they achieved those goals by adapting to each situation and by working together.

The World Equestrian Games was a huge event that involved the arrival of more than 600 domestic horses. The Veterinary Division’s Livestock Unit had a complex job, working with the site owners, USDA and several other entities to successfully host an event without a disease incident.

During that event, the Veterinary Division’s livestock and poultry unit staff also worked at the Mountain State Fair. Then as both events were still in their final days, Hurricane Florence forced both units to send staff back to their home stations.

As some staff closed the fair and continued the equestrian event, other staff members turned to hurricane response. Livestock and poultry units worked with the Forestry, Emergency Programs, Environmental Programs and Marketing divisions to help people and businesses affected by Florence. For example, 62 commercial poultry farms reported bird losses, and nine commercial poultry farms requested depopulation assistance.

While that work was still going on, many livestock and poultry unit staff were moved to organize and run the shows at the State Fair in Raleigh, just as they finished hurricane assignments.

While all of that was going on, USDA requested assistance from North Carolina to plan African Swine Fever workshops and a response exercise. That effort began just after the Mountain State Fair ended, while the World Equestrian Games was wrapping up. It continued through the Hurricane Florence response and the State Fair. All the while, some livestock unit staff members were part of the national planning committee, and they hosted more than 65 people from 16 states for the first workshop on African Swine Fever in November of 2018.

Just as the veterinary staff and their coworkers in other divisions may have been catching a breath, a winter storm brought snow to the state, especially in western North Carolina. The staff responded when 24 farms reported storm damage. They helped five commercial poultry farms when they requested depopulation because of that storm.

Only some of the 69 members of “Veterinary Division & Friends” were able to attend the recognition ceremony.

The collaboration and the flexibility these staff members showed in those four months served our state well. They helped everyone from individual citizens, to the big businesses and the public at large.

Below is a list of the employees:

  • Veterinary Division:
    • Livestock unit office staff:
      • Michelle Baker, Cathy Best, Candice Bunch, Dr. Mark Cosby, Jennifer DiMauro, Connor Dorsch, Sara Finley-Ibrahim, Henrietta Holbrooks, Judy Lopez, Michael Mayes, and Crystal Stone.
    • Livestock unit field staff:
      • Dr. Jeffrey Broadaway, Robbie Powell, Dr. Elizabeth Herring, Dr. James Kittrell, Matthew Cox, Carl Forehand, Dr. Christina Law, Mark Mills, John Allen Sapp, Michael Stiles, William Thompson, Tim Worley, Dr. Carol Woodlief, Tim Batten, Michael Beal, and Wendy Thompson
    • Poultry unit office staff:
      • Dr. Michael Martin, Brian Hinton, Doug Paterson, Mark Srebro, and Jennifer Weeks.
    • Poultry unit field staff:
      • Lee Belton, Jimmy Collie, Danny Fryar, Matthew Gentry, Ryan Higgins, Charles Ivey, Sylvia Johnson, Christy Jones, Kenneth Kincaid, Travis Love, Scott Moore, Brannon Preslar, Lisa Preslar, Scott Rackley (now with Emergency Programs), Jimmy Stuart
    • Veterinary Division Staff:
      • Division head Dr. Doug Meckes and Justin Howell
    • Animal Welfare Section:
      • Dr. Patricia Norris and Meghan Ray
  • Emergency Programs Division:
    • John Howard and Cody Grasty
  • Environmental Programs Division:
    • Joseph Hudyncia
  • Administration/Executive Office:
    • Anna Hayworth
  • North Carolina Forest Service:
    • David Lafon, Sam Niemyer, Joey Mitchell, Zack Davis, Mike Petruncio, Chris Stickland, Jake Martin, Trevor Gilliam, Mike Brown, Roger Clements, Justin Perry, Daniel Blackburn
  • Marketing Division:
    • Neil Bowman and Billy Lewis