I had the honor to serve as emcee of the State Employees' Awards for Excellence program at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh. What a pleasure to learn more about some of our state's finest public servants! The next time politicians start lambasting state government workers for not pulling their weight I hope they will pause and read some of the stories about the 2006 award winners. Take Pat Howell as a prime example. Pat works for the State Insurance Department. When she applied for another position in the department and won that job she convinced her supervisor not to fill her old job. Pat was convinced that she could handle both positions in the Division of Risk Management. She was right! Her courage and commitment to efficiency paid off for her department and taxpayers. State Correction Department Sergeant William Herring was honored for heroism for saving the life of a wreck victim from a burning vehicle. NC A&T State University Housekeeper Sylvester Davis helped save the life of a student who suffered a seizure. UNC Chapel Hill Executive Assistant Victoria Dowd launched a public service project to remodel a home for a severely injured college football player whose family faced insurmountable medical bills. State Department of Health and Human Services Technician Curtis Graham has defused many explosive situations with his gentle and positive touch at the O'Berry Center where volatile and violent clients are treated. Dr. Gary Mesibov has helped the University of North Carolina become one of the world's most renowned programs in the field of autism. DOT engineer Doug Lane has paved the way for many reductions in road project costs with his tireless dedication to taxpayers. The reputation of UNC's Ruth Miller as an advocate for children with special needs has become legendary at the Frank Porter Graham Center in Chapel Hill. The highly innovative Tom Reeder of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources established a new program to help protect wetlands and curb stormwater runoff. Department of Correction researcher Nicole Sullivan secured funding for a three year program to help inmates re-enter society and find skills to help them secure meaningful employment. UNC researcher Abdel-Naser Lbib Hassan Rezk has been tireless in his work to help fight HIV/AIDS. Department of Agriculture agronomist Bill Yarborough helped farmers devastated by flood waters obtain relief funds. Correction Officer William Efird has added a rich new dimension to the word "volunteer" with his heroic efforts in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. NC State University's Denise Baker has raised the standard for county extension agents as a brilliant child and family advocate. Thomas Archie Barrow with the Employment Security Commission has done a remarkable job helping veterans with employment, medical assistance and pensions. How proud I am to be a part of this great state and these great public servants! I'm already looking forward to the 2007 awards!