Tim Skelding named 2017 DAQ Employee of the Year

Author: Jill Warren Lucas

With three nominations detailing his extraordinary service in 2016, Tim Skelding has been named Division of Air Quality Employee of the Year.

Skelding, an environmental specialist with the Raleigh Regional Office, was honored by colleagues during the division’s annual appreciation event Wednesday at the N.C. Museum of History. He has worked at DAQ since 2003.

“We celebrate Tim’s valuable contributions and actions that exemplify DAQ’s spirit of excellence,” says DAQ Director Mike Abraczinskas, who presented Skelding’s commendation. “His outstanding efforts on our new data system were critical toward fulfilling our important mission of protecting and improving air quality for the citizens of our state.”

Skelding, who initially opposed the project, became dedicated to ensuring that stakeholders were engaged in the rollout and had their questions answered.

“I tried to touch base often, with the regions especially, as we figured out how this new system worked (and didn't work) and how best to use it,” says Skelding, who was unaware that he had been nominated, let alone multiple times.

Humbled by the endorsement, he added, “I took it as people feeling that their needs were being addressed, or at the very least recognized.”

Five DAQ employees were nominated by peers for projects completed in 2016. Review and selection was conducted by a small team and kept secret until the awards ceremony.

Skelding was credited in nominations for the Ambient Monitoring Section’s successful transition to a data acquisition system that operates at 40 sites and collects hundreds of distinct air quality parameters each day. Skelding worked on weekends to keep his assigned monitors running so he could devote weekdays to team meetings, working with vendors, and developing and implementing comprehensive training designed to meet diverse stakeholder needs.

“The data collected by ambient monitoring staff is the backbone of the division,” wrote Supervisor Patrick Butler, adding that Skelding went far beyond his normal job duties to lead the project. “Without Tim’s vision, extra effort and determination … this project would be in serious jeopardy.”

The rollout would have been more difficult and time consuming without Skelding’s leadership, agreed Environmental Programs supervisor Joette Steger and Environmental chemist Paul Chappin.

“Tim was undaunted and took ownership of the project,” they wrote. He took all “appropriate actions to move the implementation forward.”

Skelding’s dedication continues “to help regional staff members better understand the database software,” wrote Blair Palmer, an environmental specialist who also noted Skelding’s positive leadership. “[He] is deserving of this prestigious award.”

Other nominees for DAQ Employee of the Year include:

  • Teresa Colon, environmental engineer and educator with N.C. Air Awareness, who delivered dozens of educational events for new and established partners across the state, including schools, organizations and nonprofits, and collaborated with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to strengthen its Dual Language and Immersion programs;
  • Jennifer Womick, environmental engineer with Mooresville Regional Office, hailed as a “permitting Ninja” for processing 108 applications (average turnaround: 20 days), approving 131 emissions inventories associated with renewals, and completed nine inspections – all reflections of her exceptional customer service;
  • Steve Ensley, environmental chemist with the Asheville Regional Office, who set up a new sulfur dioxide monitoring system in Canton and worked with partners to place fine particulate monitors in key locations to track the devastating western North Carolina wildfires. He even volunteered his expertise to support a similar project in hard-hit Gatlingburg, Tenn.;
  • Ray Stewart, compliance supervisor with the Winston-Salem Regional Office, who managed two major municipal processes (sanitary sludge incineration and landfills) while also producing comprehensive documents and a training guide, and led a DAQ working group tasked with complex landfill regulations – all while the regional office was under-staffed.

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