Parks Department Employee Receives Mayor’s Award Of Excellence

Lincoln, NE (April 4, 2022) Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today presented the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for October 2021 to Planning Assistant Sara Hartzell from the Parks and Recreation Department. The awards recognize City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to Lincoln.

Hartzell was nominated by Parks and Recreation Facilities and Operations Manager J.J. Yost and Director Lynn Johnson in the categories of productivity and customer relations for her work between October 2020 and May 2021 developing the User Experience Master Plan for Wilderness Park. The goal of the plan is to make the 31 miles of trails in the 1,475-acre park more accessible.

While the pandemic made traditional community engagement processes unavailable, the nominators said Hartzell worked through email, Zoom, surveys and interactive web-based maps to engage the community and involve residents in the process. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board adopted the plan in May 2021, and the first phase of improvements identified in the plan are in progress.

The nominators wrote that Hartzell’s willingness to lead development of the plan with an in-house team saved about $75,000 in consulting fees. They wrote, “Through Sara’s extensive knowledge of the park and her relationships, she was able to lead an in-depth process of exploring challenges and opportunities to make Wilderness Park more user-friendly and accessible. The master plan is appealing and engaging and is anticipated to result in greater use of the park as a unique natural resource in Lincoln and Lancaster County.”

The other categories in which employees can be nominated are valor, safety, and loss prevention. Consideration also can be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee’s job description. All City employees are eligible for the award except for elected and appointed officials.

Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates, and the public.  Nomination forms are available at or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources Department, which oversees the awards program.

All nominations are considered by the Mayor’s Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a certificate. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.