EEC employees give thanks for their many blessings

By EEC Staff

Energy and Environment Cabinet

This holiday season, the employees of the Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) were asked to share the things for which they are the most thankful.

Their expressions of gratitude ranged from having great and supportive coworkers to love of family and the blessings of good health.

Several, when asked, said they are thankful for their jobs and the opportunities afforded to them.

“I’ve been with the Cabinet for 20 years, and just four years after I started, my mother was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.  I had to take time off from work to help care for her, spend time with her and people who didn’t even know me donated time so I had the last four months of her life to spend with her and I didn’t miss a single paycheck.  How many jobs are out there with people that caring and considerate?” Debbie Horn, Administrative Specialist III.

“I am thankful for my dream job! I have the privilege to work to improve the environment, protect the citizens and generally make the water safe and enjoyable for all our citizens and visitors. I can apply my education and experience to benefit both the public sector and the private sector. I get to work with the best and nicest people on earth while earning a living.  How could you ask for more?” Randy Thomas, Environmental Control Supervisor.

“I am thankful for a new career and job. I have met dozens of tremendous people within the EEC. To feel like a part of a team, and to feel appreciated, is a wonderful gift.” John Brown, Research Specialist.

“I focus on the gifts and blessings that are mine in the service for the Commonwealth. I focus on my employment that is both gratifying and beneficial and the agency that I have the honor of association with is one comprised of exemplary individuals that demonstrate on a daily basis commitment to excellence both professionally and personally.” Belinda Wilkins-Smith, Forest Ranger Technician III.

Some said they are thankful for the health of themselves and loved ones.

Connie Hunt with her parents in 1958.

Connie Hunt with her parents in 1958.

“I’m most thankful that my parents are still living. My Mom is 86 and survived a massive heart attack 17 years ago. My Dad is 88 and still working. I am very blessed!” Connie Hunt, Administrative Specialist III.

“I’m thankful my husband and mother still have good health. He is 70 and she is 90 and they’re still hanging in there. Mom plays games like Qwirkle, Dominoes and Scrabble. Her mind is as sharp as a tack. I am also thankful for my husband, who rebuilds motorcycles in his spare time and still rides, much to my dismay!” Ann Workman, Administrative Specialist III.

Many expressed thanks for good fellowship and family.

“I am thankful for my family and my puppy dogs.  They bring joy to everyday, and help me realize what is truly important in life.” Anthony Wooldridge, Internal Policy Analyst III.

“I am thankful for my family, friends and my work family. Having a group of people that you enjoy working with makes all the difference. My branch plays hard, but we work even harder.” Abigail Rains, Environmental Scientist V.

Aura Oct 2016

Nancy Lewis’s granddaughter, Aura.

“My family, but especially my granddaughter , Aura.  I had two boys, but always wanted a girl and I am spoiling her to death and she’s only two!” Nancy Lewis, Administrative Specialist III.

“I am thankful for so many things this year, one being that my sons are home with all of us. We have spent many holidays and other celebrations without them here because they are soldiers in the U.S. Army. I am also thankful that we are all healthy and able to celebrate my husband’s grandmother turning 100 years old. She is amazing and we are grateful that she is still with us.” Jo Ann Palmer, Administrative Specialist III.

“I’m thankful for my healthy kiddo!” Elizabeth Mattingly, Environmental Control Supervisor.

Todd Ritter_s fiancé Amber Vaughn and son, Elliot.

Todd Ritter’s fiancé, Amber Vaughn, and Elliot.

“My nearly one year old son Elliott, born on Nov. 24th, 2016 and my fiancé, Amber Vaughn.” Todd Ritter, Environmental Scientist III.

“I am so thankful for my family, extended family and neighbors who pitched in and helped during my heart procedure and recovery.  Also thanks to the great doctors and medical teams at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood for their talents and skills.” Linda Hunter, Soil Conservation Representative.

“I have a good life, good friends and a great family.” Carl Hays, Environmental Scientist III.

Many are thankful they have come through hardships that have made them better appreciate their blessings.


Robin Westrick and her father circa 1973.

“I am deeply and profoundly thankful that when my father passed away peacefully in our home a year ago with four generations of Westricks, present and together for the first time in nearly a decade, he died surrounded by every member of his family, knowing how dear and loved he was. It was truly a gift to be thankful for.” Robin Westrick, Environmental Scientist I.

“I’m very thankful that my cancer treatments, both chemo and radiation, seem to be working.

I was diagnosed with Stage 3B lung cancer in May, and I have never smoked.” Susan Mallette, Geologist Registered.

“I am so very thankful that my best friend, Kari Sutherland, who also works in the Cabinet, has her mother with her.  Her mother was diagnosed with leukemia in September, of 2016. Kari has sacrificed everything to help her mom.  I’m so very thankful that Kari and her family will be able to spend a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas together.” Mellody Wideman, Legal Secretary.

Mellody Wideman and Kari Sutherland.

Mellody Wideman and Kari Sutherland.

“I am thankful for my migraines. My dad and grandfather both had heart attacks in their 30s’ and because of doctors investigating my migraines, I was diagnosed with heart disease.  Now I can be treated for it, unlike my dad and grandfather who went undiagnosed. My grandfather died from his heart attack, but my dad survived his.” Amanda Mattingly, Environmental Scientist I.

“I am grateful that I can still be thankful even during time of grieving my love ones. Within a 13-month period, I experienced the pain of losing a brother, then my father, and then my sister. My mother and I focus on what’s in front of us and what we can do to help those that are less fortunate than us.  We focus on what is important at that moment, not what we didn’t do or say yesterday, or what tomorrow holds. Because we have learned that tomorrow to spend with those we love isn’t promised to anyone of us.  I will take this holiday season and reflect on all the wonderful memories I had with my father and siblings and be grateful for each moment I have with all of my friends and family today, tomorrow and this holiday season.” Angie Griffin, Internal Policy Analyst II.

One employee remembered to pay homage to the people who work hard to make sure food is on our tables not just on Thanksgiving Day, but all year round.

“The thing I am most thankful for is farmers. These guys work long hours to feed us all so that we are free to do other types of work. I have seen farm work being done. It’s dirty and physically demanding. I can call in if I’m not feeling well and spend the day in bed. The cow that needs to be milked doesn’t care if the farmer is sick that morning – it still needs to be milked. Every time I see one of these farmers they are busy. They deserve our respect.” Louise Cantrell, Programmer/Analyst III.

Another employee is thankful for the hard work that goes into providing the Commonwealth with clean water.

“I’m thankful for the men and women that work at our drinking water and waste water treatment plants.  They are unsung heroes that provide an absolute necessity for life, day in and day out.  They work all shifts, weekends and holidays, in extreme temperatures and environmental conditions such as odors and waste.  We never see them or hear about them because they’re not in the spotlight.  But think about them the next time you turn on the faucet or flush the toilet.  They make it all possible.” Daniel Bishop, Internal Policy Analyst III.

Many relayed sentiments about their faith and how they felt it has made their lives more meaningful.

“I am thankful for my job, a nice group of people I work with, my family and friends, but most of all, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sins and gives me hope that one day I will spend eternity in heaven with my family and friends who also place their trust in Him.” Nick Coleman, Environmental Scientist IV.

“I’m thankful for God’s preservation of good health for my family and me.” Ben Cordes, Environmental Control Supervisor.

“I am thankful for God’s grace, my beautiful wife Sara, family and friends and all my hardworking co-workers that are a delight to work with!” Danny Anderson, Environmental Engineering Branch Manager.

Some were thankful for many things.

“God and all the blessings he has bestowed on me and my family. Parents who raised me with morals and work ethic and enabled me to provide a path forward for my children, grandchildren etc. My staff whose experience, character and wisdom exceed normal expectations. The time I have had with Ricky Johnson, who is retiring end of year, who has been a lifesaver for me and the miners in Kentucky and will be missed tremendously. My health, having successfully navigated through two major surgeries in past 13 months. And mine rescue personnel who are willing to put their lives on the line at any time for people that they may not even know.

I am thankful for the Division of Mine Safety specialists across the state who are doing a great job in improving safety for all Kentucky miners. For EEC and Department for Natural Resources leadership that provides direction and support during tough times with shrinking budgets etc.

For a Governor that is trying his best to correct problems that are strangling this great state, while reaching out to all Kentuckians for opinions and direction. For a country that is led by people who understand the importance of freedom and democracy. And for friends that I have made over the years and here at EEC.” Jim Vicini, Director, Division of Mine Safety.

 And one employee even remembered his favorite sports team.

“I’m thankful for fun co-workers, great friends, loving family and the 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles. GO BIRDS!!!” Charles Higginbotham, Environmental Engineer Assistant.

Charles Higgenbotham and his fiancé, Brooklyn Payne.

Charles Higgenbotham and his fiancé, Brooklyn Payne.


Categories: All

2 replies »

  1. Wow. This is great. I’m thankful for my 3 dogs (bean, marcus, and leelu), my wife (Alex), and my twins on the way (Gregory Dane the III and Francesca Jo (Lil’ Dane and Frankie Jo) January 20th). I can’t wait for them to meet their great-great grandparents and their great grandparents and of course their grandparents (and aunts uncles and cousins). I’m thankful for my job and my wonderful co-workers/friends. I am also thankful to be an American. ~ Dane Ison, Division for Air Quality – Permit Review Branch


  2. I am thankful for my life. I was in a car accident that took 3 lives and i was the only survivor. I am also thankful for my job, my car, my home and all of the little things that we all take for granted.
    I am thankful for my family being in good health. for my two precious grandsons, my family and Keylee and Sugar my two Cocker spaniels. They have been a part of our family for 8 and 10 years now.


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