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Nichols honored as top Walworth County deputy

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Darryl Enriquez
May 19, 2011
— About 10 years ago, when Dan Nichols was a student at East Troy High School, he belonged to the Explorers Program of the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.

On Friday, he will be named the office’s Deputy of the Year, an award handed out annually by Sheriff David Graves. The event will start at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the auditorium of the Walworth County Health and Human Services building.


Nichols, 26, is one of dozens of deputies who will be honored at the event.


Nichols said it’s likely his experiences with the Explorers are what directed him to what he believes will be a life-long career at the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.


As a program member, Nichols learned about collecting evidence, conducting traffic stops and riding work shifts in patrol cars.


Communications Officer Cathy Manthei nominated Nichols as Deputy of the Year, she said, because of his hard work, especially in the 2010 special traffic enforcement patrols.


The patrols put deputies on Interstate 43, where they watch for suspected drug traffickers, drivers with outstanding warrants and improperly registered vehicles.


“Deputy Dan Nichols works harder than anyone I have ever known. The amount of self-initiated work this deputy finds is amazing,” Manthei wrote. “Dan has excellent communications skills and a willingness to do what it takes to get the job done. Deputy Nichols’ commitment to the job really stands out in his work product.”


Of the enforcement patrols, Manthei said: “Long hours were spent by all who were involved in this project and sometimes tempers became short. Not Dan’s, he was a joy to work with.”


After graduation, Nichols enrolled in Gateway Technical College’s law enforcement/criminal justice program. Nichols is the son of James and Margaret Nichols of East Troy.


Upon receiving his two-year associate degree, Nichols went to work for the Genoa City Police Department and worked part-time for Linn Township as a police officer.


He was hired as a sheriff’s deputy three years ago.


Nichols said he now works alongside the deputies who supervised him as an Explorer.


“They remembered who I was and have served as mentors here,” Nichols said.


Nichols could not hide his humility and appreciation for the award. In what is normally a thankless job, it’s nice to receive recognition, he said.


“I’d rather see someone else get it,” Nichols said of the award. “When I was told about it, I was shocked. It shows that working hard and working your butt off pays off.


“It really takes everyone to run this office, from the guys who are ready to retire to the new guys.”


In a pre-released copy of his comments, Graves compared Nichols to “a first-round draft choice for anyone’s team, and we are glad he is on ours.”


The honors are nice, Nichols said, but he also appreciates a friendly wave now and then from members of the public.


AWARD RECIPIENTS

Others who received annual awards include:


-- Public service: Pastor Larry Hansen, Kenneth M. Roberts, Matthew Klopfer, Gerald A. Dorsey, Jr.


-- Lifesaving: Correctional Officer Craig Stauffer and Sgt. Charles Hall


-- Civilian employee: Karen Witt


-- Correctional officer: Ruth La Loggia


-- Distinguished service: Deputies Tanya Miller, Brenda Thurin, Andy Makar, Gibby Maas, Brian Panfil, Alex Torres, and Detectives Shannan Illingworth and Robert Craig.


-- Distinguished service unit: Dive team—Lt. Jamie Green and Deputies Josh Staggs, Ed York, Chris Such, Alan Gorecki, Josh Adams and Garth Frami.


-- Meritorious service with valor: Sgt. Tim Otterbacher; Deputies Scott Smith, Gorecki and Thurin.



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