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Hawkins named Probation Officer of the Year

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson Heidi Hawkins, left, was announced as the West Virginia Probation Officer of the Year Thursday in the Randolph County Circuit Courtroom in Elkins. Judge David Wilmoth, at right, praised Hawkins, the chief probation officer for the 20th Judicial Court in Randolph County.

ELKINS — Smiles, laughter and tears were plentiful in the Randolph County Circuit Courtroom Thursday afternoon, as Heidi Hawkins was announced as the West Virginia Probation Officer of the Year.

Hawkins, the chief probation officer for the 20th Judicial Court in Randolph County, was honored by both state officials and her coworkers in front of a crowd of dozens of wellwishers in the courtroom.

“I’m definitely honored,” Hawkins said after the announcement, becoming emotional and shedding some tears. She thanked her staff and her mother and father, who were present in the audience Thursday, saying, “That’s where my work ethic is from.”

Judge David Wilmoth said, “I’ve worked with Heidi not only as a judge but also when I was practicing. Heidi has always done everything she can do. She’s got a good heart, and I think that’s what it takes to be a probation officer. It’s not about supervising someone, it’s about caring. Heidi cares. She has the best interests of the people she’s working with at heart.

“She’s put a great staff together. I’ll tell you, this probation office is the best one in the state,” the judge said.

Sherri Lopez, another member of the probation office in Randolph County, read aloud the nomination letter she wrote and submitted.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Heidi for 20-plus years,” Lopez said. “She’s been my mentor and my friend. She works rings around anyone I know, and she’s an amazing woman…

“She works with adults and juveniles, distributing cases evenly among her staff and herself. Not only does she work a full caseload, she also participates in Juvenile, Adult and Family Drug Courts.

“She’s spent countless hours looking for sanitizers, masks, gloves and other equipment to keep us all safe,” Lopez said.

Danielle Hofe, treasurer of the West Virginia Association of Probation Officers, told those present Thursday that Hawkins “is truly a remarkable human being. I’ve watched you grow, I’ve watched you become just the spirit, truly, of a probation officer.”

Hofe said every member of Hawkins’ staff signed the nomination letter, “testifying to the fact of what a remarkable human being she is, and not just as a person, but as an officer and a representative of the court.”

Stephanie Bond, director of probation services for the West Virginia Supreme Court, noted, “We normally do the probation officer of the year at a conference, and this year the conference got canceled. I thought, ‘There is no one in this state more deserving (than Hawkins).’ During the pandemic, Heidi jumped in and was contacting our office with ideas and suggestions, and ‘I can do this and I can do that.’

“We have over 300 probation officers in this state, and 31 chiefs. She was one of the very few who came right in and volunteered information and volunteered to help,” Bond said. “She took the initiative. You helped everybody in the state out and it is so appreciated.

“And she’s down all of this with being one probation officer short!” Bond added, prompting applause for Hawkins from the audience.

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