April 30 through Saturday is Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Correction Officer Week to recognize outstanding employees within the corrections field.
SOCF has selected Corrections Officer Leslie V. Ellis as the SOCF Correction Officer of the Year. Before beginning his career as a corrections officer at SOCF in 1994, he was a police officer and a narcotics officer in Lawrence County through the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
“Officer Ellis is an exemplary, dedicated and dependable employee that is attentive to details,” said SOCF Public Information Officer Larry Greene. “He is often utilized as a role model to train new correction officers.”
Ellis has been a member of the prison's Hostage Negotiation Team for seven years and has attended specialized training sessions and has served as a guest instructor at other ODRC facilities. In his free time, he assists with his daughter's Girl Scout troop.
On Friday, ODRC will have a ceremony to recognize 31 corrections officers from across the state that have been selected to represent their institutions. Ellis will be competing with 30 other officers for the title of State Correction Officer of the Year.
In honor of Corrections Officer Week, there will be other activities including a memorial service on May 12. This will be the 13th memorial to honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty at SOCF, including corrections officers Arthur Sprouse, Gary Underwood and Robert “Bobby” Vallandingham, shop foreman Eric Bowling and teacher Beverly Shoemaker-Taylor.
The SOCF Honor Guard will host this ceremony on the front lawn in front of the prison and the ceremony is open to the public.
On Monday, a benefits fair will be in the main lobby area for SOCF employees and on Wednesday, the SOCF medical staff will host a health fair with cholesterol and blood sugar screenings, blood pressure checks and other health-related evaluations. On Friday, there will be an employee appreciation banquet which will include recognition of Correction Officer of the Year Ellis, Firefighter of the Year Michael Pearson, Teacher of the Year Frank Merrill and Employee of the Year Michael Sheeter.
On Saturday, SOCF will have an open house from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. with 15-minute guided tours. Those planning to attend will be asked to sign a registry and clear a metal detector. The following items are not permitted inside the prison: pocket knives, pagers, cell phones, weapons, alcohol and narcotics.
MARK SHAFFER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.