By Mimi Wood, Island Eye News Staff Writer
The weather on Friday, Oct. 19 was about as good as it gets: cool upon waking, warming to the upper 70s in the afternoon, low humidity. Another day in paradise. But paradise doesn’t just “happen.” The diligent, reliable, behind-the-scenes efforts of IOP’s city employees contribute tremendously to the enviable lifestyle that most residents cherish and enjoy.
To show its gratitude, the City of Isle of Palms ordered up the picture-perfect weather, and proceeded to host its first ever Employee Recognition Day. Save for the on-duty police officers and fire fighters, nearly every employee, from Donnie Pitts’ Sanitation Crew to Norma Jean Page’s Rec Department, enjoyed a scrumptious luncheon under the tented parking lot at City Hall.
Interim City Administrator Desirée Fragoso explained, “The City Council wanted to show their appreciation to all the city employees; they wanted to take the opportunity to recognize everyone.”
In addition to recognition, the day provided the employees a couple hours to spend quality time together. Fragoso continued, “We are a small team, but we don’t spend time interacting informally.” Left unsaid was “We’re too busy working.”
“Small but mighty,” proclaimed Mayor Jimmy Carroll, to the crowd of 75 or so. “We are blessed to have such loyal, dedicated employees.” Carroll expounded upon the City’s past efforts to express its appreciation to its employees. “We started out at The Windjammer, but that became a ‘political’ thing, with mainly councilpeople and their friends in attendance. We tried bringing everyone together for a Riverdogs game, and at the Aquarium…but had only about 25% participation.”
“We are in debt to everyone here for making IOP such a great place to live,” Mayor Carroll pronounced. “Thank you for being part of the City Family.”
The atmosphere was decidedly familial, with off-duty police officers and firefighters joshing like siblings, some with their spouses and children in tow. Starting as a dispatcher 21 years ago, after having grown up on the island, Interim Chief of Police Kim Usry stated, “Coming to work is like coming home. It’s awesome…I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The only thing missing from this family is dysfunction… departments interact seamlessly; it’s hard to find friction or discontent, either within or between departments.
“It’s amazing we can do this,” noted Wynette DeGroot, IOP Human Relations Officer, who is credited with the idea of the luncheon. “Today is about the employees, about longevity and milestones.”
“It’s a beautiful day under the Big Top,” quipped Councilman Ted Kinghorn. “This is a great idea, and it’s long overdue. The City’s employees deserve this.”