If Sarah Herring needs something done in Aiken's solid-waste department, she knows where she can turn.
"I only have to ask him once, and it's done," Ms. Herring, a supervisor, said about Ralph Thomas.
Mr. Thomas is the epitome of the quiet, dependable employee who does his job without fanfare, she said.
In October, Ms. Herring listened in on radio conversations between Mr. Thomas and other employees regarding a house fire. While on duty, Mr. Thomas saw a girl crying on the porch of an Aiken home.
Smoke was coming from the house, and the child told him her grandmother was inside. He went into the house and led the woman to safety.
He said he thought the woman had put something on the stove and then fallen asleep.
Mr. Thomas radioed for help, and firefighters contained the blaze and saved the house.
In December, Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh honored Mr. Thomas for his actions.
"He received the mayor's character award," said Ms. Herring, who wrote a commendation for Mr. Thomas.
Mr. Thomas, a past employee of the year and supervisor of the year, has worked for the city for 25 years.
"I love it," he said of his job.
He said he would like to retire in about 10 years, but Ms. Herring said he can't retire for at least 20 because he's too valuable an employee.
"He's awesome," she said.
Reach Charmain Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUBLIC SERVANT OF THE MONTH: RALPH THOMAS
JOB TITLE: Supervisor I
CITY DEPARTMENT: Aiken Solid Waste
JOB DUTIES: Mr. Thomas supervises 15 employees who collect household waste and recyclables.
NUMBER OF YEARS WITH THE CITY: 25 years.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT MY JOB: "I like working with the public and maintaining my crew."
NOMINATOR'S QUOTE: "He's one of those people, irregardless of the economy, he's going to do the best he can. It's not based on raises," said Sarah Herring, Mr. Thomas' supervisor.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY COUNTS?
Community Counts is The Augusta Chronicle's collaborative effort to benefit the communities in our area. This multitiered program of involvement includes contests, events, sponsorships and recognition of outstanding youths, teachers, volunteers and public servants in the Aiken-Augusta area. Nomination forms are available online at augustachronicle.com/communitycounts.