Tribal Government & News

72 Tribal employees honored for combined 1,105 years of service

10.06.2020 Danielle Harrison Tribal employees
Higher Education Curriculum Specialist/Academic Adviser Mercedes Jones was congratulated for five years of Tribal employment during the third-quarter Employee Recognition event held in the Tribal gym in September 2019. She reached the six-year mark this year. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals staff writer

Seventy-two employees were honored with a combined number of 1,105 years of service to the Grand Ronde Tribe during the third quarter of 2020.

During previous years, fall honorees and other Tribal employees typically enjoyed a hearty breakfast served in the Tribal gym. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor group gatherings of more than 10 people have been prohibited, so no celebration is currently planned.

Leading those honored in employment longevity was Natural Resources Department Timber and Roads Program Manager Jeff Kuust, who reached the 31-year mark in working for the Tribe.

Kuust becomes the third employee to reach the 31-year mark, joining Health & Wellness Business Office Manager Tresa Mercier and Head Groundskeeper Gregg Leno as having worked more than three decades for the Tribe.

Joining Kuust in the three decades or more club were Health Benefits Specialist Barbara Steere, Staff Accountant Melanie Hubbard, Procurement Assistant Kelly Leno, General Manager’s Office Administrative Assistant Barbara Branson and GED Coordinator Tracy Biery, who attained 30 years apiece.

In the quarter-century or more club were Tribal Attorney Rob Greene at 26 years, Administrative Assistant Tammy Garrison with 27 years and Natural Resources Department Manager Michael Wilson and Finance Officer Chris Leno, who both reached 28 years of service. Higher Education Manager Bryan Langley and Chinuk Immersion Preschool Teacher Jeff Mercier notched 29 years.

Achieving 20 or more years of service are Assistant Tribal Attorney Kim D’Aquila and Cultural Advisor Bobby Mercier, who both reached 24 years. Family Services Assistant Elaine Lane Raven, Dental Hygienist Sheila Blacketer and Swing Shift Supervisor Ben Bishop reached the 22-year mark and Procurement Supervisor Kevin Mueller and Cultural Resources Specialist Christopher Bailey reached 21 years.

Elementary Lead Matthew Bucknell and Facilities Manager Tyson Mercier hit 20 years of service.  

Third-quarter award recipients were hired between July and September.

Employees received certificates and bonus checks in appreciation for their increasing tenure with the Tribe. In addition, those reaching the 10-year mark received a Tribal Pendleton blanket or an extra $100 in their bonus check.

Employees honored during the third quarter included:

19 years: Security Department Supervisor Roel Hernandez, Purchase/Referred Care Health Care Payment Specialist Erica Mercier and Interpretive Coordinator Travis Stewart.

18 years: Audit Director Trudi Yoshikawa, Swing Shift Housekeeper Nathan Mueller, Treasury Manager Rick Andersen and Cook Kevin Campbell.

17 years: Benefits Specialist Peggy Carpenter and Nutrition Program Manager Kristy Criss-Lawson.

16 years: Health Information Technician Stephanie Simmons, Member Services Administrator Shannon Simi, Finance Executive Assistant Ken Trevino and Employment Specialist Brandy Hembree.

15 years: Housing Services Coordinator Deborah Kroeker and Health Information Technician Leanna Norwood.

13 years: Natural Resources Department Secretary Scarlett Holtz, Senior Help Desk Technician Alec Palanuk-Mercier, Publications Coordinator Dean Rhodes, Preschool Bus Driver/Aide Jennifer Jerabek and Employment Specialist Misty Carl.

11 years: Mail Room/Printing Clerk Anna White, Help Desk Technician Spencer Olson and Maintenance Supervisor Andrew Freeman.

10 years: Maintenance Technician Jason Bailey, Health Information Technician Amanda McMahon, TERO Administrative Assistant Lori Sterling, Member Services Department Manager Veronica Montano, Maintenance Technician Gary LaChance Jr., Early Childhood Education Department Manager Angie Blackwell, Housing Maintenance Technician Michael Lane, Young Child Wellness Community Coordinator Keri Kimsey and Adult and Family Services Supervisor Amber Zimbrick.

9 years: Vocational Rehabilitation Trainee Amber Yates, Medical Technologist Staci Pemble, Family Support Services Specialist Joanna Brisbois, Maintenance Technician Daniel Mooney and Legal Secretary Susan June.

8 years: Child and Family Services Caseworker Tara Summers, Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez, 477 Employment and Training Specialist Angey Rideout, Registered Nurse Tashina Blair, Senior Telecommunications Technician Mark Scheelar, Parks and Recreation Specialist Jerry Bailey and Social Services Secretary Darla Patterson.

7 years: Cultural Education Coordinator Jordan Mercier.

6 years: Health & Wellness Clinic Medical Director Lance Loberg, Curriculum Specialist/Academic Adviser Mercedes Jones and Food Sustainability Program Assistant Patricia Leclaire.

5 years: Housekeeper Jonathan Baker, Senior Help Desk Technician Braden Ebensteiner, Lead Chemical Dependency Counselor Joe Martineau and Tribal Police Officer Tokata Tehama.