WHITLEY COUNTY — Essential county workers in Whitley County have received a recognition payment for their hazardous work during the pandemic.

Since March, healthcare workers and law enforcement have remained going in and out of people’s homes and road workers are dealing with 300 or more people at times during dumpster days just to name a few.

Whitley County Judge Executive Pat White Jr. said he heard of some other counties trying to find ways to give incentive pay to their employees to show appreciation for their efforts during the COVID-19 emergency and he wanted to do the same for Whitley County employees as well.

On July 28, the Whitley County Fiscal Court approved the Employee Recognition Award Program to show appreciation for the county employees. White said it is usually limited circumstances that allows for programs designed to recognize particular accomplishments of employees but during declared state of emergency it changes a little bit.

And during declared state of emergencies, most all county employees do step up and this program allows recognition for that.

“There’s a lot of really compelling stories of county employees who deserve a little something extra,” said White who mentioned first responders, road crews, clerks and jail employees as just some of those working day in and day out, often in hazardous condition concerning the coronavirus.

“They’re before the hospital,” White said about the Whitley County EMS employees during a June meeting of the fiscal court. “They’re the ones putting the masks on and walking in the front doors knowing people have flu-like symptoms even back in March when we had no concept how scary this disease was.”

Whitley Country Director of Projects Amber Owens, Whitley County Treasurer Jeff Gray and White have worked on the program with the department of local government.

Full-time county employees that worked through the pandemic received a one time payment of $1,000 and part time employees received $500.

“It was something to let the employees know we’re thinking of them and we appreciate them,” White added. “Their hard work did not go unnoticed—most county employees did not get to stay home.”

Approximately 150 county employees received the recognition pay and White said it was a big help to some.

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