Two water treatment specialists win Worker of the Year awards

Aug. 30, 2002
Dickies Workwear on Friday announced its American Worker of the Year Awards, and they include two water treatment specialists who won the award for their states.

FORT WORTH, Texas and LECHNER, Idaho, Aug. 30, 2002 — To honor hardworking people across our nation on Labor Day, Dickies Workwear has announced its 2002 state and national winners in the 11th Annual American Worker of the Year Awards.

Two water treatment specialists have won the award for their states. The 2002 Idaho Worker of the Year is Robert Lechner, 44, a water treatment specialist and city maintenance supervisor in Troy, Idaho. The 2002 Missouri Worker of the Year is Eddie Stepp, 48, a water technician for the city of Springfield who also farms in Walnut Grove.

Idaho Worker of the Year Robert Lechner was nominated by his wife Sandra, who wrote in her winning essay "Robert loves his job because it allows him to serve our city. He has saved the city much money ... he often works at home on his own time to create detailed reports, forms and helpful information for everyone."

"I just have an ordinary job that I'm proud to have," said Lechner. "It's nice to see Dickies honoring the hard-working common man...they're really not so common anymore."

Missouri Worker of the Year Eddie Stepp was nominated by his daughter, Rhonda Stepp, who wrote, "he does service calls ... the elderly always enjoy him because he answers their questions and makes their day brighter! He also works here on the farm after he puts in 10 hour days at work."

"I check the water ensuring quality control, and of course this means going into many of the elderly's homes. If they need my help I'll do anything for them — change a light bulb, fix a door, light the pilot," said Stepp, who has worked for the city for 30 years. "I try to come by and visit them, check on their water, once a week. Then I go home and work on the farm with our cattle and crops."

The winners were selected from thousands of entries from across the nation. Entrants were asked to write in 100 words or less why their nominee represents "the spirit of the American worker" and deserves recognition. Winners have included a woman aircraft mechanic, a hog farmer, a waitress, a stonemason, a coal mine rescue worker and a high school industrial shop teacher.

"Reading the entries every year reaffirms what we know about American workers," says JON RAGSDALE, vice president of marketing for Dickies Workwear, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. "It's more important than ever to recognize the contributions of everyday Americans — the millions of people who take pride in their jobs, families and communities, and keep our nation running."

Each state winner will receive over $500 in cash and gifts, including a commemorative Dickies 2002 American Worker of the Year work jacket.

Five previous national winners have been announced on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The 2002 national recipient is a furniture craftsman from Ohio (nominated by his daughter), whose granddaughter is going to take over the family business. He wins a 2003 Ford F-150 pick up truck and a trip for two to Nashville, for the American Worker of the Year Awards ceremony, to be broadcast live on the Grand Ole Opry on September 20th.

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