SPEARFISH, SD – City of Spearfish employees were recognized during Monday’s City Council meeting for the years of service milestones they reached in 2021.
Each received a certificate from Mayor Dana Boke and had a short biography presented by City Administration Executive Assistant Paula Gengler.
Photo Caption: City of Spearfish employees were recognized during Monday’s City Council meeting for the years of service milestones they reached in 2021. From left are: Gary Hargens, Curt Jacobs, Kayla Sprigler, Jude Warner, Steve Hofmann, Mayor Dana Boke, Celeste Schlinkert, Jamie Hafner, Dalton Baker, Michelle DeNeui, and Tyler Ehnes. Photo courtesy City of Spearfish
Honored for five years of service:
Dalton Baker began employment with the City in September 2016 as a water/wastewater utility operator I and has earned all state certifications required. In November 2019, he was promoted to water/wastewater utility operator class III after passing the final testing requirements. His supervisor described, “Dalton excels at thinking outside the box. He has a can-do attitude and is always willing to lend a hand to help another employee.”
Gary Hargens started in March 2016 as the facility maintenance superintendent. Hargens graduated from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology with a degree in electrical engineering. In his role, Hargens and his team are responsible for upkeep and maintenance of more than 80 City-owned structures. “Gary is knowledgeable; he is truly a jack of many trades,” Gengler said. “From carpentry to plumbing to renovations, he can do it all.” In his spare time, Hargens is the lead singer of the band Midnight Sun, a role he has held for more than 35 years.
Nicolle Nicholas started in February 2016 as a part-time water meter reader. In July 2019, she was promoted to water/wastewater utility operator I. In May 2021, Nicholas successfully completed the state requirements and is now a water/wastewater operator utility operator II. “Nicolle is always upbeat and has a very positive attitude,” Gengler said. “Her focus is on excellence. Her department counts on her to contribute whenever and wherever she is needed.”
Celeste Schlinkert started in February 2016 as a part-time library assistant and has become a valuable member of library staff. “Her quality of work and ability to accomplish all necessary tasks is excellent,” Gengler said. “She is always working to make the library the best it can be. Celeste is wonderful with patrons, always making them feel welcome. She is also very willing to help her co-workers and is definitely a team player.”
Kayla Sprigler is a graduate of Black Hills State University with a degree in outdoor education. She started with the City in August 2016 as a communications officer in the dispatch center. In May 2019, she accepted the position of public safety administrative coordinator. Sprigler’s supervisor describes, ‘She is extremely efficient and able to effectively problem solve, usually making decisions that improve the operations of the multiple public safety departments that she serves.” Gengler said, “Kayla is the go-to person in public safety as she has acquired a vast working knowledge of the department. She is a pleasure to work with and a highly valued member of the public safety team.”
Honored for 10 years of service:
Tyler Ehnes is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in parks management. He began his career with the City in 2007, when he worked briefly before leaving for military flight school. Upon his return in October 2011, he was hired full-time as a parks maintenance and forestry technician. He was promoted to parks recreation and forestry foreman in 2015 and parks recreation and forestry superintendent in 2017. In 2019, Ehnes was promoted to parks and recreation director. Tyler has been in the South Dakota National Guard for 19 years and currently serves a Chief Warrant Officer III. In 2020, he had the honor of flying a Black Hawk helicopter over Mount Rushmore as part of the 4th of July celebration.
Jason Gellett is a graduate of Chadron State College with a degree in criminal justice. He was hired as a police officer in November 2011. Gellett is also a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer. While in DARE training, of the field of 31 officers, Gellett was selected by the South Dakota DARE training staff as the outstanding officer of the class. In 2018, Gellett became a school resource officer. For the past several years, he has been the main coordinator of Freshman Impact, a one-day prevention program that teaches students about the consequences of risky choices. “He commits himself to this role and takes pride in creating a positive environment for our students,” Gengler said. “School officials this year have commented on how pleased they are with Jason’s level of service.”
Kevin Gose started with the City in December 2011 as a part-time traffic signal technician and is responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of traffic signal systems and related equipment. “Kevin brings with him a wealth of electrical knowledge,” Gengler said, describing how his supervisor states, “Kevin is a great asset to the City. He uses excellent judgement in solving any issues that arise. His focus is always on quality and customer satisfaction. Kevin is an appreciated and respected member of our team.”
Honored for 15 years of service:
Jude Warner started in November 2006 as a dispatcher. In December 2011, she transitioned to the Public Safety administrative coordinator. In May 2015, she decided to return to communications and was promoted to communications supervisor. “Jude has a wealth of experience and knowledge in this area. She sets a great example for her employees as she always strives to accommodate the customers whether on the phone or in person,” Gengler said, describing how Jude’s supervisor states, “Jude is one of the most unselfish individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with.”
Honored for 20 years of service:
Michelle DeNeui’s career with the City began in August 2001 when she was hired as a dispatcher. She worked in this position for several years before moving to the finance department. DeNeui holds a bachelor's degree in accounting, and in 2018, she earned a master's degree in professional accountancy. She was a finance accountant for five years before becoming the assistant finance officer in 2011. She held this position for eight years before becoming the finance officer in 2019. DeNeui holds positions on many boards including: chairperson for the 911 Coordination Board for the State of South Dakota; District 10 chairperson for SDML; treasurer for the Spearfish Emergency Ambulance Board; ex-officio for the City of Spearfish for the Chamber of Commerce; and board member of the South Dakota Government Finance Officer Association. “Michelle has a wealth of knowledge in many areas of the City and is a valuable resource for many,” Gengler said.
Jamie Hafner started in October 2001 as a finance accountant. She holds a bachelor's degree from Black Hills State University. Her duties include entering all City revenues in cash collections, including revenues from City departments, fees, lease payments, etc. She also prepares and posts county tax revenue and administers alcohol licensing, including renewals, transfers, and special alcohol licensing processes. “She is also the go-to person for our municipal elections,” Gengler said. “Jamie has acquired a vast working knowledge of the City during her time here and is a valuable member of our team.”
Steve Hofmann was hired in March 2001 as a certified police officer. He holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in law enforcement from Western Dakota Technical Institute. In April 2003, Hofmann was assigned as the school resource officer. In December 2005, he was promoted to police corporal and then to police sergeant in 2010. Most recently, he was reassigned to police sergeant over investigations. His supervisor notes, ‘Steve has a very good work ethic and leads by example. We can rely on Steve in any situation. He is an essential part of the team and has helped build a positive culture within the department since his arrival 2001.”
Pat Rotert was hired in June 2001 as the chief of police. He is the longest serving chief of police for the City, serving just over 18 years. “Pat was instrumental in creating a work environment which has fostered trust and respect within the police department,” Gengler said. In August 2019, Rotert was promoted to public safety director, assisting in creating the first department of public safety for the City, where he currently oversees the police, fire, building services, and code enforcement divisions. “Pat is excellent in visiting with members of the public and allows the citizens to be heard,” Gengler said. “Pat has a unique skill set and has established a high level of trust within the organization.”
Honored for 25 years of service:
Tom Paisley started his career with the City in May 1996 as a building inspector. He spent several years in this position before being promoted to building official in January 2000. Paisley is responsible for inspecting residential, commercial, and industrial structures within the City to ensure compliance with state and local building codes. “Tom and his team have done a tremendous job keeping up with the rapid growth of both residential and commercial properties in Spearfish,” Gengler said. “In fact, last year was a record-breaking year for building project valuations, nearly doubling from 2020. Due to Tom’s expertise, he is one of the few building officials in the state who is regularly asked to advise our legislators on building code related statutes.”
Honored for 30 years of service:
Curt Jacobs is celebrating 30 years with the Spearfish Police Department. His roles in the department have included patrol officer, canine officer, and in 2001, he was selected as the first school resource officer in Spearfish. Through the years, Jacobs has been promoted to sergeant, lieutenant, assistant chief of police, and currently serves as chief of police. “During his career, Curt has enhanced the quality of life for others by providing professional, caring law enforcement,” Gengler said. “He has worked with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, developing a positive working relationship with all. He has served on the Artemis House Board, South Dakota Special Olympics Board, Teen Court Board, and CASA Board, just to name a few. Curt loves his community, and it shows. He has served it well for many years.”