Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Public Works Director Richard Hardy honored Joe McKinnon and Joseph Thornton as the February 2018 Employees of the Month at the Feb. 8 City Council meeting. McKinnon and Thornton each received a framed certificate, a check for $200, and their names appear on a plaque displayed in City Hall.
McKinnon is a refuse collection driver in the Public Works Department and is responsible for collecting solid waste throughout an assigned route of residential neighborhoods. Thornton is a maintenance worker responsible for mowing city right-of-ways and operating various equipment and tools.
In January 2018, the Public Works Director received a call from the Lowndes County EMA Director informing him of a seven-car pileup on the South Patterson Street overpass. Due to ice on the overpass, neither the police nor fire department personnel could gain access. Immediately, the on-call supervisor dispatched McKinnon and Thornton.
Locating a backhoe, sand and the appropriate tools, the men applied the sand to the road to safely guide vehicles off the overpass. Thornton noticed one driver who was extremely nervous, so he calmed her nerves by giving her directions for turning and accelerating her vehicle until it was safely on the sand path. The combined efforts of these two city employees restored the road for use and helped traffic move safely and efficiently.
The City of Valdosta applauds McKinnon and Thornton for their dedication and rapid response to helping citizens in need and for being named the February 2018 Employees of the Month.