OKEECHOBEE -- At the Jan. 28 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission, county employees were honored for 5 years of service.
“These are the people who do the work,” said Commission Chair Terry Burroughs. “They support you and this county.”
• Debra Austin, case manager coordinator with senior service, is originally from Union, South Carolina and has been a resident of Okeechobee since Labor Day in 2014. Before coming to work for the County in 2015, Austin was an adoption counselor in North Carolina. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services and is an avid collector of all things Peanuts the cartoon.
• David Avila, firefighter/EMT was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Prior to coming to work for the county as an EMT, he worked for the City of Sebring Fire Department for 7 years. He is the oldest of seven siblings and a proud father of two boys. Avila is also the only firefighter to come from a family full of military and law enforcement careers.
• Sonja Chapa, librarian was honored for 5 years service. Chapa is a lifelong resident of Okeechobee and was a student at the University of South Florida prior to her employment with the County. Chapa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from the University of Central Florida and a Master’s Degree of Library Science from the University of South Florida. Since beginning her employment with the County in 2016, she has been promoted to librarian and has become the assistant coordinator of the Heartland Library Cooperative covering seven counties. Chapa spent her weekends as a kid visiting the old Okeechobee Library (located where the City Police Department is now).
• Josephine Dorriety, Extension Office assistant was honored for 5 years service. Dorriety was born and raised right here in Okeechobee and has been an employee with the County since 2015. Before beginning her County career, Mrs. Dorriety worked for Jones Supply and Big Johns. She started with the County at the Parks and Recreation Department and transferred to the Extension office as an Office Assistant in 2018. Mrs. Dorriety is always known to have a smile on her face and is an absolute joy to work with.
• Wesley Etheredge, electrician with Facilities Maintenance, Etheredge was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida and relocated to Okeechobee in 2001. Prior to his employment with the County, he was a Superintendent for Hypower Inc. Since beginning his employment with the County, Mr. Etheredge has been promoted to Head Electrician and loves to ride his Harley in his off time.
• Sharie Turgeon, tourist development coordinator, was honored for 5 years service. Turgeon was born in California and eventually moved across the country to Okeechobee in October of 2003. Prior to her employment with the County, Mrs. Turgeon was the Executive Director of Okeechobee Main Street and has served on both City and County Centennial Committee’s. Most recently, Mrs. Turgeon has put together an award winning Official Visitor’s Guide to Okeechobee County that has won three awards given by the Florida Magazine Association.
• Carlos Rivera, equipment operator/driver road maintenance, is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico and came to the United States in 1990. Rivera married his wife, Mary, in 1994 and together they have three children. Before becoming employed with the county, Rivera worked for a sod company for 20 years. He then decided to make a career change and began working for the County Road Department as a driver/equipment operator in 2015.