Public Information Officer
Addressing them for the final time in office, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson offered up heaping doses of thanks and praise Wednesday night to a large group of volunteers for donating their time, talent and service to the agency. Sheriff Johnson, who announced in January that he’s stepping down at the end of this, his fourth term, is finishing out his 16th and final year in office. “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” Sheriff Johnson told the group during the Sheriff’s Office’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. “You have helped make the last 16 years sixteen of the greatest years of my life. What you do for this agency and what you do for this county and all the citizens in it is unparalleled.”
The annual banquet at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach attracted a crowd of more than 200 that turned out to show its appreciation to the many volunteers who work throughout the Sheriff’s Office providing a wide range of administrative, clerical, professional and technical assistance. They include everything from volunteer patrols, victim advocates, courthouse assistants and chaplains helping with death notifications to office jobs in areas such as training, records, public information, fleet services, court security, investigative services and civil. All combined, the Sheriff’s Office’s 208 volunteers donated 62,416 hours of service in 2015. Put in terms of dollars and cents, last year’s volunteer services have an estimated value of $1.35 million.
“A finer group of people has never graced any agency,” added Sheriff Johnson. “We couldn’t do it without you.”
Many of the volunteers were presented with awards Wednesday based on their number of years or hours of service. The group included one volunteer -- Doug Howe -- who reached the 20-year service mark and another, William Higham, who has logged 13,580 hours of volunteer service. Ten other volunteers were recognized as recipients of the President’s Call to Service Award, which honors Americans who’ve given more than 4,000 or more hours of service and set an example that inspires others to volunteer service. The 10 recipients were Charles Bultman, Carl Burtner, Sandra Carlson, Sonia Cortes, Helen Dupree, Jose Hauser, Kenneth Heinbockel, Maxwell Landau, William Maxwell and Noreen Weller. Another three volunteers, Ralph Henshaw, John Landers and John Sheppard, also earned the President’s Call to Service Award, but weren’t present at the banquet. Carlson also was singled out Wednesday night for her selection as the Sheriff’s Office’s 2015 volunteer of the year. Carlson volunteers in the Sheriff’s Office Deltona headquarters and was selected for her friendly, outgoing demeanor and willingness to help in a variety of areas. For instance, she trained with civil deputies to help them with research on subjects to be served and is continuing to train on several other databases as well.
Before handing out the awards, Sheriff Johnson reminisced about his early days in law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Office dating back to 1971 -- when there was little in the way of training, technology or back-up to help deputies get the job done. The Sheriff also revealed to the audience that he initially didn’t plan to make a career out of law enforcement. He originally was going to use the job as a way to save money to go to law school. Yet the end of his current term will cap off a law enforcement career spanning 42½ years. “It really has been an honor being your Sheriff,” Sheriff Johnson said as he reinforced to the volunteers their value to the agency. “I thank you, and I know the next Sheriff is going to want you just as bad as I wanted to have you.”
Wednesday’s banquet, the 20th annual, also included a remembrance for three former Sheriff’s Office volunteers -- Madeline Kerr, Chaplain Reynaldo Lantigua and Mary Russell -- who passed away since last year’s banquet.
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151