Members of the Daviess County Sheriff’s department celebrated the achievements of one of their own Friday when Sgt. Lee Blanton was named Deputy of the Year at a brief ceremony at the sheriff’s office downtown.

“Ceremony” might be a bit of an overstatement. Rather, Sheriff Keith Cain, the department’s command staff and a small number of deputies congratulated Blanton in the department squad room when Blanton came on-station for the afternoon shift.

Normally, the sheriff’s department holds an awards ceremony dinner at the end of the year. But, as with everything else people traditionally do, the plans for a large, departmentwide event had to be scuttled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I only wish we could have done it in the setting we typically do,” Cain said. “But that does not diminish the significance of the recognition.”

Blanton, who worked at the Owensboro Police Department before joining the sheriff’s office in 2014, was recognized not for one event over the year, “but for his outstanding and consistent work and leadership throughout the year,” Cain said.

Blanton was nominated by his fellow deputies.

“It’s difficult every year because we have people doing exceptional work,” Cain said. “Lee is an individual that is obviously very professional, he’s very meticulous, he never questions ‘why’ (when given a task) and he has a natural ability to communicate with people.”

Blanton, “has a genuine empathy toward the citizens of Daviess County,” he said.

Blanton said the most memorable occasions of his career have been when he was able to assist someone.

“The best part of the job to me is when you run into somebody ... and they remember you,” Blanton said. “They come up to you and say, ‘Thanks for doing that,’ and you realize it left a lasting impression of what you did” for them.

“That’s the memorable thing to me, the times when you were able to make an impact, even if it was changing a tire,” Blanton said.

Blanton said he was honored to be chosen.

“The biggest thing here is it’s really family-oriented,” Blanton said. “... It’s a real close-knit family. Working for the sheriff ... he wants to make sure everyone feels like it’s a home.”

Sheriff’s department awards list:

Sgt. Lee Blanton: Deputy of the Year

Deputy Hunter Harris: Outstanding commendation; sheriff’s unit commendation.

Deputy Matt Alexander: Outstanding commendation: distinguished service; sheriff’s unit commendation.

Deputy Zach Morris: Outstanding commendation: education award; sheriff’s unit commendation; distinguished service.

Corporal Jake Klozback: Sheriff’s unit commendation; distinguished service.

Deputy David Morris: Outstanding commendation; sheriff’s unit commendation; distinguished service.

Deputy Jacob Gould: Outstanding commendation; sheriff’s unit commendation.

Detective Jared Ramsey: Outstanding commendation; sheriff’s unit commendation; distinguished service.

Lt. Chester Freels: Distinguished service.

Deputy Russ Day: Sheriff’s unit commendation.

Deputy Alex Coomes: Outstanding commendation; distinguished service.

Deputy Kelsey Skaggs: Outstanding commendation.

Deputy Josh White; Outstanding commendation; sheriff’s unit commendation.

Sgt. Duane Harper: Sheriff’s unit commendation; outstanding commendation; distinguished service.

Deputy Clay Booth: Sheriff’s unit commendation; outstanding commendation; distinguished service.

Deputy Chris Hayes: Sheriff’s unit commendation; distinguished service.

Sgt. Tyler Free: Sheriff’s unit commendation; outstanding commendation.

Detective Casey Foster: Outstanding commendation.

Corporal Phil Ashby: Sheriff’s unit commendation; distinguished service.

Deputy Kelly Payne: Outstanding commendation.

Court Security Officer Bill Mattingly: Outstanding commendation.

Court Security Officer Matthew Brenner: Outstanding commendation.

Major Barry Smith: Distinguished service.

Lt. Scott Wedding: Distinguished service.

Lt. Nick Roby: Distinguished service.

Lt. Jerry Spurrier: Distinguished service.

Detective Jared Spurrier: Distinguished service.

Deputy Jared Kessinger: Distinguished service.

Detective Brad Youngman: Distinguished service.

Civilian Award: Clark Pelphrey and Brandy Pelphrey.

Civilian Award: Antoine L. Smith-Rouse.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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