North Carolina Department of Correction news release

October 23, 1998

Foothills correctional officer named 1998 Employee of the Year

(RALEIGH) – For efforts that helped convict two killers who were sentenced to death, Acting Correction Secretary Joe Hamilton named James A. Gribble of Morganton the department’s Employee of the Year during a reception Oct. 21.

While working in the segregation unit at Foothills Correctional Institution, Officer Gribble supervised safekeeper Tilmon Golphin, one of two brothers sentenced to death for the 1997 murders of NC Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowery and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Corporal David Hathcock. As a result of the contact he had with Golphin and with other inmates who talked with Golphin, Gribble assisted investigators, prosecutors and became a key witness in the state’s case. His assistance and testimony played a role in the Golphins being found guilty of murder and being sentenced to death.

"Gribble has one of the toughest jobs in our department. He works in the segregation unit of a close security prison," Hamilton said. "His conscientious attitude and attention to detail were important in one of the state’s highest profile murder trials."

Gribble was one of 34 employees nominated for the honor from more than 19,000 department employees statewide.

"Our agency has undergone the greatest period of change in its history. We now have more employees and more facilities supervising more offenders than ever before. More importantly, we have regained credibility with the people of North Carolina," Hamilton told those gathered for the ceremony. "It took time and hard work to rebuild our reputation. I want to thank each of you for your efforts in making this agency a place where we can be proud to work."

During the ceremonies, Hamilton honored the following correction employees:

Percy W. Underdue, Programs Assistant II; Donald J. Askew, correctional lieutenant; Michael W. Powell, correctional lieutenant; Jeffrey M. Manley, correctional lieutenant; and Karen D. Vaughn, Office Assistant III, worked together on an important project. Secretary Hamilton said the employees worked to promote the State Employees Combined Campaign at the prison last year. The goal for the prison was $5,000 and through their efforts, $13,717 was raised.
Sandra Barnes is administrative secretary to N.C. Department of Correction Controller Sam Newman and has been a correction employee for 26 years. Secretary Hamilton recognized Barnes for her competency, character and positive attitude. Barnes is the initial contact for all administrative matters for employees in the controller’s office and a liaison for all department employees who work with fiscal matters. She coordinates and schedules business airline transportation for department employees and is responsible for obtaining American Express credit cards for approved department business travelers. In her new role as Human Resource Professional, she is the leader in implementing the new merit based hiring concept in the Controller’s Office.
Randall L. Besser is a Program Assistant I at Sampson Correctional Center. Secretary Hamilton said Besser joined the department in 1994 as a correctional officer and has worked in programs for the last two years. He tracks the criminal history, social history, educational level and other information on a caseload of 75 inmates to help make an accurate assessment of their needs. Sampson Superintendent Steve Muller says Besser has acquired the reputation as the person to contact for up-to-date information for program’s case management. In addition, Besser has been recognized as the prison’s Case Manager of the Year, coordinates DART aftercare volunteer efforts, serves as the prison’s victims services coordinator, chairs the unit’s employee relations committee and takes the digial I-D photos of staff and inmates.
Suzy Cooper is an intensive probation officer serving Hyde County. She works with a surveillance officer in supervising a caseload of intensive and high-risk offenders. Secretary Hamilton said Cooper has worked with law enforcement and school officials to warn high school students of the dangers of drugs. She arranged for a former inmate to visit the high school and talk to students about the mistakes he made in his life. She has also worked to create the county’s first Narcotics Anonymous meetings. She has spoken to local civic groups asking their support for Narcotics Anonymous.
Cory Cradle is an Applications Programmer II with the department’s Office of Research and Planning. Secretary Hamilton said Cradle sought and received a Governor’s Crime Commission grant for staffing and equipment to provide statistical information about offenders. Initially, Cradle put the Research and Planning Offices’ statistical abstract report on the internet. Then he provided a computer application over the internet that allows visitors to create their own customized reports about North Carolina offenders. Through the grant, Cradle is also providing internet access to probation managers and has developed a training program to help them use this information in making management decisions. The Governor’s Crime Commission believes Cradle’s internet application will be a national model for government and public access to correctional information.
Anita Culbreth is a victims’ advocate in District 3B of the Division of Community Corrections. She provides information to crime victims about the probation system and trains correction employees in the most effective ways to work with crime victims. Secretary Hamilton said Culbreth has spent countless hours speaking in the community about probation and services for crime victims. She has worked to help those who suffer at the hands of criminals and helped probation officers understand the concerns of crime victims. She is a charter member of the N.C. Probation and Parole Association, secretary for the Domestic Violence Interagency Council in Judicial District 3B; and board member of the Mediation Center of Eastern Carolina. She is a member of the Child Abuse Review Team of Judicial District 3B, Victim Advocates in Law Enforcement and N.C. Victim Assistance Network. Culbreth is one of the department’s trailblazers for victim services.
Maxine Davis is a correctional officer at Foothills Correctional Institution. Secretary Hamilton said Davis joined the department in 1978 as a personnel clerk at Morrison Youth Institution and worked at McCain Correctional Hospital before moving to Foothills. She is the prison’s mailroom officer responsible for reviewing and distributing all incoming and outgoing inmate mail. In reviewing one letter being sent by safekeeper Tilmon Golphin, Davis read one line stating that an officer was going to be harmed severely. As a result, Davis testified about the letter in the trial of Kevin and Tilmon Golphin, who were convicted and sentenced to death for the Sept. 23, 1997 murders of N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowery and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Corporal David Hathcock. Her alertness and diligence helped the state in the prosecution of this case.
Bruce Dillon is a maintenance mechanic at New Hanover Correctional Center. Dillon is responsible for the maintenance of the New Hanover Correctional Center and Wilmington Residential Facility for Women. Secretary Hamilton said he’s told by New Hanover Superintendent Larry Snead that Dillon gives at least 110 percent. Dillon worked around the clock making preparations for Hurricanes Bertha and Fran and, after the storms, making assessments of the damage and insuring repairs were made. Dillon wears a pager and always makes himself available to come back to the unit if an emergency arises. He willingly schedules work to be performed at night or on the weekend in order to accommodate the unit and vendors.
Richard Duke is the assistant superintendent for programs at Caledonia Correctional Institution. Secretary Hamilton said that Duke has a role in the well being of inmates at Caledonia through his oversight of inmate classification and programs. He has also been active in professional and community groups. He successfully chaired the State Employees Combined Campaign for a five-county region and helped rekindle interest in the North Carolina Correctional Association in the northeast region of the state. Duke is a leader in his church and in his community’s Ruritan Club. Caledonia Superintendent Randy Lee said that Duke has a positive attitude and a willingness to roll up his sleeves and participate in worthwhile projects.
Randall Epps is a third shift correctional officer at Stanly Correctional Center. Epps provides custody and security for medium custody inmates. Secretary Hamilton said Epps is active in the community, taking part in many worthwhile causes. At the local Moose Lodge, he is known as Santa Claus. That’s the role he plays at the lodge’s Christmas event for disadvantaged children. He recently worked in a golf tournament that included drivers from NASCAR. The tournament raised money for the Stanly County Hospice, Stanly Memorial Hospital, Stanly Community College and Stanly County Animal Rescue League.
Allison Henry is a correctional lieutenant at Pender Correctional Institution. Henry manages the prison’s eight road squads. Secretary Hamilton recognized Allison for his emergency response and follow-up actions.After responding to an emergency in which an offender transport company was involved in a vehicle accident, Henry helped secure the offenders and maintained security at a nearby hospital where the offenders were treated. As a result of this incident, Henry developed a training program to prepare prison road squad staff for similar emergencies. Since that time, Henry has put together a packet of information on road squad operations to assist an Assistant Attorney General. In February, Henry was recognized as Pender’s employee of the month.
Craig Hilliard is superintendent of Iredell Correctional Center. Secretary Hamilton said Hilliard has been a leader who has inspired staff and inmates since becoming superintendent in 1996. He has worked with several religious groups that provide programs for offenders including Bill Glass and Tully Blanchard. He has worked with Prison Fellowship on three community service projects that have put inmates and community volunteers to work renovating an elderly Kannapolis woman’s home, a Statesville halfway house and Pfeiffer College. He has worked to make holidays special for inmates by organizing a Thanksgiving dinner and obtaining donations of toys and candy for inmates to give their children. He began a Christmas party for staff and has established a number of sports tournaments for staff and inmates. He has also been an active member of the North Carolina Correctional Association South Piedmont Region.
Belinda Horner is a probation and parole officer in Judicial District 15A. Secretary Hamilton said Horner took the initiative to work with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) to arrest 19 illegal immigrants who were on probation or parole for drug offenses or violent felonies. She coordinated the arrest of these offenders with fellow probation officers and INS agents. Their efforts resulted in the largest roundup of criminal aliens ever in North Carolina.
James Jones is the lead correctional officer for a Wayne Correctional Center road squad. Secretary Hamilton said Jones runs one of the most efficient road squads at the prison. Jones is a member of the prison’s drug task force whose efforts have uncovered a zip gun and escape plot as well as illegal drugs that resulted in the arrests of civilians, inmates and an employee. He is a member of the prison’s emergency response team. He is also a member of the Department’s Prison Emergency Response Team, graduating near the top of his class in PERT’s first basic training class in the fall of 1996. Jones’s accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider that he only began working for the department three years ago.
Edmond Lamm is a correctional officer who works first shift in tower No.1 at Franklin Correctional Center. Secretary Hamilton said Lamm’s work involves a number of duties such as controlling two gates, the facility base radio station, coordination between the prison’s Officer-in-charge and vehicles entering the prison, and assignment of unit vehicles to staff. Franklin’s Assistant Superintendent Leon Edmonds said Lamm can be relied on to help out. While the prison has experienced staff shortages, Lamm has always been willing to volunteer to work his off days. Edmonds said Lamm is a shining light who is appreciated for his dedication to the agency.
Michael Lanphier is an intensive probation surviellance officer in Harnett County. Secretary Hamilton recognized Lanphier for saving a man’s life. While on the job in April of this year, he spotted a house fire. Without regard for his safety, he ran up to the front porch of the burning residence. He found a water hose to douse the blaze and banged on the door to waken a man who had fallen asleep on the couch watching television. Had it not been for Lanphier’s quick response, Thomas Faison of Dunn may have been killed in that fire. Lanphier’s actions were truly heroic.
Denise McCrae is a program assistant II at New Hanover Correctional Center. Her job is to make the unit job assignments for the prison’s 450 inmates. Secretary Hamilton recognized McCrae because her efforts have helped New Hanover have the highest work assignment rate of any Eastern Area prison. The committee of employees that nominated McCrae wrote: "Every time more work is needed to better serve the inmate population, Ms. McCrae volunteers. Every time more energy is needed to better serve the public, Ms. McCrae seems to have more to give. Every time staff needs are not met, or someone falls on hardship, Ms. McCrae will be the person to say, ‘Look folks, we need to do something to help.’"
Thomas McInnis is a teacher at Sandhills Youth Center. Secretary Hamilton said he was told by Sandhills Chaplain Don Jordan that McInnis teaches more than math. He teaches optimism, love, joy, peace and a better way of life. He teaches young men to be men. The chaplain says "McInnis has helped more inmates than any one I know." McInnis also serves his community and is active in his church. The chaplain describes McInnis as positive, pleasant and caring.
James Pierce is superintendent of Caswell Correctional Center. Secretary Hamilton said Pierce is genuinely concerned about his employees and the prison’s inmates. To help new correctional officers, Pierce pairs them with an experienced officer for two weeks of extensive on-site training to prepare them for their front-line supervision responsibilities. Pierce has established behavioral incentives for road squad inmates, encouraging them to work hard and without rules violations to be considered for reassignment to other jobs or education programs. Pierce has also been an active member of the State Employees Association of North Carolina and the North Carolina Correctional Association.
Roselyn Powell is the Division of Community Correction’s Third Judicial Division Manager. Secretary Hamilton said Powell has been described by her director as a valued visionary who can assure the vision is implemented. Powell has chaired the Task Force on Female Offenders and Their Children in North Carolina. She has also been involved with Summit House since its inception in 1987. She and other Greensboro volunteers developed the concept for this community corrections program and helped get the first program up and running in Greensboro. She currently chairs the statewide Summit House Board of Governors, overseeing operations in Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh.
Mary Lu Rogers is the Division of Prisons’ Population Management Manager. Secretary Hamilton said from 1993 to 1997, Rogers oversaw the assignment and transportation of North Carolina prisoners to prisons in Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. She was responsible for insuring that the department’s policies for inmate classification, disciplinaries and grievances were followed by these out-of-state prison managers. Rogers also monitors the intake of prisoners from jail. This year, she worked to reduce the backlog to the lowest level the department has had since 1995.
Veronica Howell is the office manager for the Department of Correction’s Internal Audit office. SecretaryHamilton said Howell is innovative, cooperative and exuberant. She does whatever it takes to make the office operate in an efficient and effective manner. Charles Owens, the department’s director of Internal Audit, says her willingness to go the extra mile time and again, her work ethic and her professional demeanor have been of immeasurable value. She is a source of optimism and encouragement for everyone in her office.
Nancy Lanier is the medical records clerk at Pender Correctional Institution. Secretary Hamilton said Lanier works miracles in her job getting a speedy, cooperative response from those with whom she works. She never hesitates to assist others in difficult data entry tasks. Agnes Aller, a RN at Pender, said Lanier is a quiet, gentle, well-mannered lady who does not realize the impact she has on the medical department, the interaction of the department’s employees and others. Aller describes Lanier as a person of integrity who can be depended upon in every way.
The recently retired Bobby Reardon served as the Administrator of Central Prison Hospital. Secretary Hamilton said the hospital’s nursing director said Reardon improved morale and the hospital facility. Updated equipment was purchased, inservice education increased, the Palliative Care unit was established and the emergency room expanded. Competent, skilled physicians were recruited, and the staffing pattern for nursing increased. Reardon has 35 years of service at Central Prison. He has also been an active member of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, serving as the organization’s state president from 1986 to 1987.
Gerotha Spain is an inmate grievance examiner with the North Carolina Inmate Grievance Resolution Board. Secretary Hamilton said Spain has traveled thousands of miles to review, investigate and respond to complaints and grievances for the Board. Despite the serious and complex issues that can at times be unpleasant, Spain pursues thoughtful solutions. She works at an office at the New Hanover Correctional Center, and a typical week includes trips to and grievance appeal work in Vanceboro and Raleigh
Robert Steele is a correctional officer at Pender Correctional Institution who serves as the prison’s canteen supervisor. This requires knowledge of the department’s computerized services such as OPUS, Cactus and accounting. Secretary Hamilton said Steele works closely with Pender’s administrative officer to track canteen sales, sales tax collections and welfare fund expenditures. His supervisor Johnnie Johnson said Steele seeks to instill dedication and proficiency in others and is a dedicated and knowledgeable employee.
Oscar Thornton is a correctional officer at Sampson Correctional Institution who serves as the prison’s canteen supervisor. Secretary Hamilton said Thornton’s quick response helped to save a child’s life. The week before Thanksgiving 1997, Thornton was driving near his home when he spotted a school bus parked by the road. He stopped and found that a student was choking. Using the Heimlich Manuever, he dislodged a piece of candy. The girl quickly recovered and a call for emergency help was cancelled. Thornton’s quick response saved the girl’s life. In addition to his heroic actions and work with the department, Thornton serves as a volunteer fireman and volunteers with the Sampson County School’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Ricky Yates is the chief probation and parole officer in Catawba County with the Division of Community Corrections. Yates has worked for the state for the past 12 years. Secretary Hamilton said that six years ago, Yates was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and quickly became an inspiration to his colleagues and co-workers with his positive attitude in the face of a disabling condition. His workplace habits belie the seriousness of his health problem. Yates never falters in his determination to be a productive manager of his staff who have been led to seek the best in themselves in following his example. Yates’s personal courage and his "never-give-up" attitude have become a rallying point for all those who work with him.
James Daniel Cavanaugh is the second shift lieutenant at New Hanover Correctional Center. Secretary Hamilton said Cavanaugh joined the department in 1980 and has worked as a correctional officer, bloodhound handler and correctional sergeant. He has served on the Prison Emergency Response Team for the past 17 years. He is a certified general instructor, firearms instructor and pepper spray instructor. During a 16-month stretch, Cavanaugh worked 244 overtime hours on escapes and 25 hours on PERT team emergencies. That doesn’t include the overtime he worked due to training or staff shortages. New Hanover Superintendent Larry Snead says Lt. Cavanaugh is a dedicated professional who enjoys challenges and staying busy.

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