Cheryl Garcia says her duty is to keep the lines of communication open for Columbia County.
Cheryl Garcia is a customer service supervisor for the county's information center.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I basically handle all of the complaints, general information for the county, service requests, etc," said Garcia, who has worked for the county as a customer service representative for nine years.
It's been her dedication to the county and the ease with which county officials say she has handled problems and complaints that has made her the county's top employee of the year for 2004.
"There's always (so much going on), and yet she comes in here with a smile," said Pam Tucker, the county's emergency services director and Garcia's supervisor. "No matter what your problem is, when our citizens call her, she totally gives them her full attention and totally cares about what's concerning them. She'll follow it all the way through to make sure it gets totally done."
Garcia's office is now part of a customer service and information center, which opened in July 2003 and receives about 1,000 complaints and general information calls each month. Of those, Garcia said she handles about 300 calls.
On any given day, Garcia said, it's not uncommon for her to receive phone calls about barking dogs, loose dogs, contractors and builders not completing their assigned duties, shrubs blocking the view of traffic and more.
"It's so interesting, what seems so small to us is huge to someone else," she said. "We have regular callers simply because no one else will listen to them."
Garcia says addressing the public's concerns makes her job worthwhile.
"I love helping people," she said. "When these people call me back or they come by the office and say, 'Thank you so much for listening to me and helping me and getting me in touch with the person I needed,' that's just worth it all."
On Jan. 4, Garcia received the Columbia County Employee of the Year 2004 award at the county board of commissioners meeting.
Garcia qualified for the award after being named Employee of the Month in April.
Before she became a supervisor of the new information center, Garcia said, her career was hectic - she was the only person answering the phone and had to assist other co-workers.
She then suggested the formation of a customer service and information center, which now has about five workers.
"I kept telling Pam Tucker and the county administrator (Steve Szablewski) that we were expanding and getting more popular," she said. "They listened and allowed me to concentrate full time on just customer service and (the) information line."
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