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Volunteers honored at Elks Law and Order Night

by Merrie Leininger, Staff Writer

The volunteers and employees of Douglas County Sheriff’s Office who consistently have been the best at what they do were honored Friday night during the Elks annual Law and Order Night at the CVIC Hall.

The Minden/Douglas Elks Lodge #2670 provides a forum for the sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officers to be recognized.

This year, the DCSO chose Investigator Mark Munoz as its officer of the year.

Munoz has been with the department for 12 years and during that time has worked in the jail, patrol and narcotics. He has been with investigations for six years.

He is also a member of the Special Operations Response Team and past president of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association.

Sheriff Ron Pierini said Munoz is highly respected within the department and has been assigned to many of the department’s most high-profile cases this year.

“He maintains a professional image at all times, is a good communicator and a good listener – qualities found in a good investigator,” Pierini said.

He said Munoz sets a good example for other officers by always being available when they need help and is hard-working, but takes little credit.

“I guess anybody appreciates getting some recognition, but I’ve never been one to like that fan-fare. I think our whole division does a good job. We have so many guys here who work their butts off and so much is behind the scenes. If it could have been recognition for each of the guys, that would have been the best,” Munoz said.

Pierini said other officers nominate their coworkers for officer of the year and then a committee of administrators chose the most deserving of those.

Pierini said he had first-hand knowledge of the hard work of another deputy, and gave George Wennhold a special recognition because of it.

“George has been with us 20 years and does an exceptional job as bailiff and with the civil division. It is a very tough job and he also assists patrol whenever they need it. I think he needed to be told how much he’s thought of,” Pierini said.

Pierini explained that George works as a bailiff for the district courts as part of the jail staff and also delivers subpoenas for civil issues.

He said the position is the most susceptible to lawsuits and complaints from the community, but he never hears anything negative about Wennhold.

Volunteers who were honored include Reserve Officer Toby Cooling, who has been with the department for four years, since he retired from the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department in Maryland.

Pierini said Cooling has volunteered countless hours and worked as a member of the range staff.

Don Bartholomew has been a member of Search and Rescue for over 19 years.

Bartholomew has been president and operations leader and is recognized throughout the state as a knowledgeable and dedicated volunteer who is consistently the first on scene.

Rob Loveberg has been a member of Search and Rescue over 17 years.

Pierini said he has a reputation as a true leader and is always the last one to leave, earning him the respect of his peers.

Jim Hansen is a volunteer with the sheriff’s office and has been involved with the Handicapped Parking Enforcement Program.

Pierini thanked him for manning the administration office during a staffing crisis this year and for his loyalty to the department.

Stu Stevens has been a leading volunteer in the North Valley Substation for several years and in the last year took over as coordinator temporarily.

Pierini said his attention to detail and organizational skills helped make the substation successful.

Stevens also volunteers with the handicapped parking program.

State Parole and Probation Officer Renee Tierney, who has worked out of the Minden office for 10 years and deals with cases from the ninth District Court was also given recognition for her work.