County honors employee of the year, who is skilled at calming angry phone callers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 November 2020 at 8:05 pm

April Flesch praised for de-escalating hostilities from residents with complaints

Provided photos: The following earned employee of the months from October 2019 to September 2020. They include front row, from left: Lori Grube (Emergency Management), April Flesch (Chief Administrative Officer), Tammy Graham (Office for the Aging), Kathleen Wright (Social Services) and Danielle Ludwick (Probation). Back row: Michelle Troup (Public Health), Scott Snook (Computer Services), Gerald Bentley (Sheriff-Dispatch), Donna Wilcox (Office for the Aging), Steven Fuller (Public Works) and Sarah Osborne (Probation).

ALBION – Orleans County held its 40th annual Employee Recognition Program this morning at Tillman’s Village Inn this morning.

The EAP Committee recognized employees of the month as well as the employee of the year.

“This is a very important and a very special occasion when fellow county employees are recognized for not only their service to the citizens of the county but to recognize those individuals who go above and beyond their duty,” said Jack Welch, the county’s chief administrative officer.

The EAP Committee receives nominations from fellow employees and department directors and then the nominations are reviewed and discussed by the committee and a selection is made.

The employees of the months for the past year were:

  • October 2019: Steven Fuller (Department of Public Works),
  • November 2019: Jeffrey Cole (Sheriff)
  • December 2019: Danielle Ludwick (Probation),
  • January 2020: Donna Wilcox (Office for the Aging)
  • February 2020: Gerald Bentley (Dispatch)
  • March 2020: Shelly Troup (Public Health)
  • April 2020: Tammy Graham (Office for the Aging)
  • May 2020: April Flesch (Chief Administrative Officer)
  • June 2020: Sarah Osborne (Probation)
  • July 2020: Kathleen Wright (Social Services),
  • August 2020: Lori Grube (Emergency Management Office)
  • September 2020: Scott Snook (Computer Services),

From this pool of candidates, a department head must make a recommendation to a separate committee to determine the Employee of the Year. The committee looked for additional service that an employee has performed since the individual was recognized as an employee of the month. Then the Employee of the Year is selected, Welch said.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson, left, and Chief Administrative Officer Jack Welch congratulate April Flesch for being the Orleans County Employee of the Year.

April Flesch was named the employee of the year. She started with the county in 2012. She works in the office for the County Legislature and the chief administrative officer.

Flesch handles many phone calls from the public, and often they are complaints, including many about garbage and recycling pickup. Residents will call to say their garbage wasn’t picked up or their recycling bin is missing. Sometimes Modern Disposal will call with complaints about residents putting syringes in the trash or used oil or an unknown powder, Welch said.

The callers may complain about not being able to process a DMV transaction in a timely manner, or they may be reporting a Covid-19 violation, he said.

Some residents, employees and other local elected officials will call and tell Flesch they aren’t happy with Welch and some of his decisions.

“Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list but you can see the variety and you can image the emotion the caller has during any given call,” Welch said during today’s recognition program. “The topics vary greatly from these unhappy residents.”

Welch praised Flesch for calmly handling the calls and not raising her voice or becoming flustered, even when the callers are rude.

“She has the ability to manage the callers’ expectation given the individual issue,” Welch said. “When the caller’s expectation is to have a call back from the CAO upon the returned call, she is never named as an ‘issue’ of which the caller needs to resolve. If fact, many times the caller is appreciative of how she related to the caller and their issue. She is a de-escalator of drama.”

Flesch handles the calls and her interactions with co-workers and the public “in a kind, courteous, professional, competent and compassionate manner,” Welch said.

He praised her for putting others at ease “especially in these challenging times which has an abundance of fear and anxiety at nearly every turn.”

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