Pilot Staff Writer

The city honored Marty Wiggins and John Cowan as volunteer and employee of the year, respectively, during its fourth annual Volunteer and Employee Appreciation Picnic Saturday at Azalea Park.

Wiggins was awarded for his work beautifying Bud Cross Park in anticipation of the Little League Tournament.

He said the thought of being recognized for the month-long project never crossed his mind.

andquot;When the all stars were coming to town, our little league fields weren't in condition to be representing Brookings Harbor Little League,andquot; Wiggins said.

The father of three sons (all in Little League) became frustrated when the organization could not clean up the field. So he did it himself.

andquot;I was just doing it, to be honest, because I was a little embarrassed.andquot;

He got permission from the Parks and Recreation Department, which supplied him with paint he used to spruce up the bathrooms and snack shack.

Wiggins initially used garden hoses to water the fields but said they were so dry, andquot;It was kind of like spitting into the wind.andquot;

So he called Brookings Fire Chief Bill Sharp, who pumped about 35,000 gallons of water from a nearby fire hydrant onto the bone-dry fields.

Then Wiggins set up sprinklers and kept water on the fields andquot;24/7,andquot; from the end of June to the end of July.

For Public Works Supervisor John Cowan, being named city employee of the year was a surprise and andquot;an honor.andquot;

Cowan said he was originally hired as a water/waste water treatment operator 13 years ago.

What he loves about his job now is andquot;being able to interact with the public on a daily basis,andquot; he said.

Sharon Sparks, a former city employee of the year, introduced Cowan and spoke of how he regularly puts in extra hours to check on special projects or help at community events.

Sparks said employee of the year award recipients from the three previous years choose the new winner.

The city manager and department heads decided to relinquish the choice to previous winners after the first year, Sparks said.

andquot;They wanted the responsibility to go to the fellow employees,andquot; she said.

Also, since three people who have received the award within three years would not be up for nomination again, they have the ability to be more objective than other employees, she added.

Linda Barker, administrative assistant for the city manager, organized the picnic this year.

Saturday's turnout was slightly below normal, she said. About 170 people indicated they would attend.

Barker andB Sparks attributed the attendance drop to the library's open house and the great weather, which they said tends to draw people into other activities.

Children and adults took advantage of pre-ceremony games including tug-o-war and potato sack races.

Everyone enjoyed barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, with ice cream for dessert.