The City Honors These SuperSTAR Employees

It’s no secret that the city has an abundance of outstanding employees who are dedicated to serving the Wilmington community.

Every quarter, we honor a select group of these employees with the STARS (Service, Teamwork, Accountability & Professionalism, Respect, Safety) Awards, recognizing their exceptional work.

The following were recognized during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16:


Rebekah Thurston, Nick Shepard, & Dani Tridico (Fire Department)

From left to right: Rebekah Thurston, Mayor Bill Saffo, Nick Shepard, and Dani Tridico

Rebekah, Nick, and Dani were instrumental in the recent success of the Wilmington Fire Department’s Junior Firefighter Academy. The program was held for an entire week and included rising 9th through 12th graders from the area. The camp-like experience allowed students to learn life-saving skills including CPR, proper application of fire extinguishers, bike and pedestrian safety, and cooking safety. These fire department team members coordinated and instructed the entire week-long camp allowing for a positive experience that included mentoring and coaching. This program has continued to plan an instrumental role in creating a positive environment for our youth and building an opportunity for them to have a glimpse into working in public safety.


Kyle Young & Larry Mims (Public Services Department)

Mayor Bill Saffo and Kyle Young. Larry Mims not pictured.

Kyle is responsible for the operation of the City’s CCTV camera system used for inspecting our storm drain pipes. This type of inspection requires coordination to get pipes cleaned of sediment and debris prior to use of the tractor mounted camera system within the pipe. Larry Mims, Stormwater Operator, operates the City’s vac-truck and is responsible for cleaning our storm drainpipes. Kyle & Larry have become a very efficient team, and over the past 12 months, they have inspected almost 46,000 feet (almost 9 miles) of pipe! That’s almost double the amount of pipe inspected in previous years. A large part of Kyle & Larry’s efficiency is due to their teamwork and collaboration skills with contractors, engineers, and other Stormwater Services staff to clean, inspect and classify the storm drainage pipe infrastructure. The importance of this work cannot be overstated. We greatly appreciate these and other efforts of Kyle & Larry in helping our team with the prioritization and rehabilitation of the City’s infrastructure.

Accountability & Professionalism

Michael Lee & Nick Shepard (Fire Department)

From left to right: Mayor Bill Saffo, Nick Shepard, Michael Lee, and Chief Steve Mason

Master Firefighter Shepard and Lee were recently confronted with a strong desire to respond ahead of the civil unrest plaguing many communities across the United States in 2020. Rather than stand idly by and wait for this unrest to affect the Wilmington Fire Department, these two individuals approached the Chiefs and offered to take the lead in assembling a team to help create a platform for open and honest discussion. The Perspective Appreciation Forum was create and produced great results throughout the department.  Other local organizations saw what the Wilmington Fire Department was doing and requested the forum be presented to their staffs. Throughout 2021, they presented this forum to the Leland Fire Department and later, with COVID in full force, modified the forum to present online to the NC Peer Support Team members. Without a doubt these individuals demonstrated professionalism and accountability to accomplish the significant goal of open discussion and communication of race/diversity in the Fire Department. Through this milestone they highlighted the importance of both diversity and unity within an organization and showed how an open dialogue can lead to a better work environment.


Michelle Hutchinson (IT Department)

Mayor Bill Saffo and Michelle Hutchinson

Michelle’s supervisor received an unsolicited email from a local resident about the services he received from her.  The resident was working to get a building permit to build a new home for his family on a vacant lot, but first needed to update the address with the City.   The resident thought the processes would take forever, but Michelle took care of this residents needs within 10 minutes of being contacted.  When the resident later ran into trouble with County inspector about the address not matching other documents, the resident reached back out to Michelle who immediately jumped into action getting on the phone to help the resident resolve the issue. This is a great example of the exemplary service and respect that Michelle gives to our residents and customers every day. 


David Blue (Finance Department)

Mayor Bill Saffo and David Blue.

In June, a staff members began to choke on a foreign object. While other staff members called 911, David Blue performed the Heimlich Maneuver.  In doing so, the object became dislodged, freeing the airway.   David’s quick actions saved another individuals life and demonstrate the heroic work our employees do on a daily basis.

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