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County dispatchers honored for service

Shawn Smith, left, and Jeff Grazier hold plaques they received for their service at the Butler County 911 Center. Submitted photo

Many people in Butler County have been aided by emergency responders, but just as many people have been helped by the voice on the other side of the 911 call.

The Butler County Communications Council recognized four of those voices Friday, April 19, at the end of National Telecommunications Week. The department recognized three retirees; Jeff Grazier, Terry Sweeney and Mark Bell, as well as a dispatch officer, Shawn Smith, with the “Making a Difference Award.”

Steve Bicehouse, director of Butler County Emergency Services, said the awards are a new initiative by the council, which is made up of county administrators, emergency personnel and telecommunications professionals. He said National Telecommunications Week offered an opportunity to recognize the long tenures of several staff members at the department — Grazier and Sweeney serving 31 years and Bell serving 24 — as well as the work of standout dispatch officers.

“That's a long time; there's a lot of lives that have been affected by their work,” Bicehouse said of the retiring employees. “It's something we're starting, the recognition of the staff and the hard work they do.”

The four dispatchers recognized Friday were presented with plaques for their achievements.

Smith earned the Making a Difference Award for his handling of a “very critical incident that involved multiple Butler County public safety agencies.” Bicehouse said the incident, which was more than a year ago, involved police and ambulance response in Butler.

Grazier, a dispatcher, will be retiring in a few weeks; Sweeney, a dispatch supervisor, retired a few months ago; and Bell, quality assurance and training coordinator, worked his final day at the department Friday.

The retiring staff members were some of the longest-serving officers in the dispatch center, Bicehouse said, but a few other current employees have been with the department for up to 14 years. Bicehouse added that the department plans to recognize more staff members in the future, because of their daily contributions to emergency response throughout Butler County.

“We've been fortunate to have a number of long-tenured employees since I've been here,” Bicehouse said. “We haven’t done this in the past but we’re going to try to more often.”

Mark Bell holds a gift box he received from Butler County Emergency Services on Friday, April 19, which was his last day at the job before retiring after 24 years of work at the agency. Submitted photo
Terry Sweeney, of Clarion County, retired from the Butler County Department of Emergency Services Communications Center on Jan. 3 Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

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