Newark, NJ - Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. presented seven County employees with Essex County Teamwork Awards for December during a ceremony on Wednesday, December 17, 2003 in the lobby of the Essex County Hall of Records.

"Throughout the year our Teamwork Awards have been given to a dedicated group of employees who are truly making a difference in their departments and communities," DiVincenzo. "The awards presented this month are a testament to the hard working County employees committed to doing a great job and putting Essex residents first. We're looking forward to recognizing the efforts of more of our outstanding County employees in 2004," he added.

Employees receiving the Teamwork Awards, initiated by the County Executive to recognize dedicated County employees, were as follows:

-Donna Benson has worked at the Essex County Division of Welfare, Department of Citizen Services since 1991. She serves as the Investigation Unit's liaison between the Newark Board of Education and New Jersey Department of Family Services. Benson is a committed employee who was responsible for locating the whereabouts and safety of two children identifiend as missing by the Newark Board of Education.

-Dennis Buery has worked at the Essex County Department of Public Works, Division of Roads and Bridges since 1974. He is the supervisor of the tree crew, which responds to a variety of different calls on a moments notice. Buery is a hands-on leader who helps his crew handle their job, whether fixing a light out of position or a banner that has fallen with speed and efficiency.

-John Downey has worked for the Essex County Division of Community Health Services for the past 11 years. He serves as a Community Service Aide with the Division of Community Health Services/Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center. Downey also works with other offices in the Division and the Department of Health and Rehabilitation. He has received the perfect attendance award for eight of the past eleven years of his employment with the County. Downey also goes above and beyond his duties and maintains the disabled accessible entrance to ensure that staff and consumers will be able to gain access to the building.

-Frank Garcia has worked for the Essex County Division of Corrections since 1990. Officer Garcia is a dedicated corrections officer who demonstrates a high level of professionalism and integrity to all his fellow employees as well as County inmates. He goes above and beyond the call of duty to assist with handling custody, transportation and intake processing.

-Abidemi Jaiyesimi has worked at the Essex County Division of Training and Employment for the past three years. She is an employment specialist, who counsels and places TANF clients into training and educational programs. She arrives at work early each day and stays late, providing her clients with one-on-one counseling. was chosen by her supervisor because she is the ultimate team player.

-Al Gbi Toe, Jr. has worked at the Essex County Office of Cultural Diversity and Affirmative Action since January 2003. Toe joined the new administration as the program coordinator for the office, which promotes fairness in all governmental services. Toe is a dedicated County employee who has accomplished several goals, including training 700 Citizen Services employees during a three day Civil Rights workshop and obtaining several grants for the County.

-Raymond Tucci has worked for the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs for the past 32 years. He originally was assigned to South Mountain Reservation as a park caretaker and rose through the ranks to become the current park supervisor at Brookdale Park and Anderson Park. Tucci was chosen because he is regarded as the backbone of his maintenance crew.

Each month supervisors and department directors from each of the County's seven departments nominate employees for this award. The chosen employees exemplify the County's Executive's goal for a unified, cooperative workforce that provides good customer service. Employees who were honored were invited to attend an informal reception in the County Executive's Office where they received a citation from the County Executive. Pictures of the winners are on display on the fourth floor of the Hall of Records outside of the County Executive's Office and will remain there during the month of December.

(past awards)