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Luncheon honors public safety workers

By Ed Brock

The surprise was perfect for Clayton County sheriff's Sgt. Tina Daniel when she was called to the stage for a second time at the Knights of Columbus 32nd Annual Public Safety Day Luncheon.

First, Daniel was one of 10 other public safety workers, including police, firefighters and 911 dispatchers, named on the Roll of Honor. She was called up the second time to be honored as the Public Safety Personnel of the Year.

"I'm shocked. I had no idea," Daniel said.

As usual the service organization had a full house for Wednesday's luncheon in the John C. Gavel Jr. Knights Hall near St. Philips Benizi Catholic Church on Flint River Road, although some of the firefighters were called away to do their jobs just before the ceremony began. It was that dedication to duty that the luncheon is intended to honor.

"As we go through our daily activities, wherever our lives seem to take us that day, we do it with a relative peace of mind. We do not needlessly worry about our property or our personal safety," Grand Knight Ed Kleppinger told the gathering. "If someone were to ask us ?Why is that?' the response would be ?That is the way it is supposed to be.' Why is it that way? The way it is supposed to be. We do not give much thought to the amount of extensive and intensive training that is required, regardless of whether you are a member of the police department, the fire department, the sheriff's department or any other department that insures the safety of the citizens."

The other names on the Roll of Honor are Clayton County police Officer Gary Flinn, Clayton County fire Emergency Medical Technician Sgt. Dwayne Casteel, Teresa Edmonson with the county's communications department, Jonesboro Firefighter Art Metcalfe, Jonesboro police Officer Charles Kimbell, Morrow police Detective Scott Olson, Morrow fire Lt. Carl DeMarco, Forest Park police Detective Isaac Fisher and Forest Park fire Lt. Sam Batten.

For the first time the Knights of Columbus also honored two students from Our Lady of Mercy High School in Fairburn, sophomore Brett Bartels and freshman Joshua DeLaney, the winners of an essay contest on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

Daniel was also the sheriff's office Employee of the Year before being recommended for the award.

"It was all the time and effort she puts into our youth programs," Sheriff Stanley Tuggle said.

Those programs include Project Stop Alcohol Violations Early (SAVE), the Junior Deputy Program, the Alcohol Awareness Program and more.

"I don't do it because of this (award). Children are my heart," Daniel said. "But it's nice to know people recognize that."

Along with a bouquet of flowers and a plaque that were given to Daniel, the Knights of Columbus will donate $350 to Daniel's charity of choice, the Lady of Perpetual Healing Cancer Home in Atlanta that provides housing for terminally ill cancer patients.