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Seven honored with sheriff's awards

--- Three showed meritorious service in '06

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published May 29, 2007, 12:28 p.m.)

Deputy Wayne Blanchard
Meritorious Service Award

In April 2006, Walworth County Deputy Wayne Blanchard arrived at the scene of a one-car rollover accident outside Elkhorn.

A frantic man with a blood-soaked shirt was yelling, "She's trapped!" Blanchard saw a female passenger in the overturned car, which had caught fire. He could tell she was likely dead from the head injuries she sustained, but he risked his own life and pulled her body from the wreck.

He also saved the hysterical man from possibly harming himself by handcuffing him and placing him in the squad car. The man kept wanting to go by the burning car.

For his actions, Blanchard received a Meritorious Service Award Friday at the Walworth County Sheriff's Department annual awards ceremony. He was one of seven honored with an award that day.

Blanchard said he rescued the apparently dead woman because she was someone's daughter.

"Deputy Blanchard is an exceptional member of our patrol division, but he is also a good man," Sheriff David Graves said Friday. "His actions added a human touch that sometimes can be forgotten. He risked his own life in order to help others deal with a horrific loss."

Other award-winners included:

Deputy Andy Makar
Meritorious Service Award

Makar followed up on a missing juvenile case where a 16-year-old girl had been away from her family for more than a year. Makar learned that the girl might have had a baby and was living in Oklahoma. He also learned that the baby's father was a suspect in the girl's disappearance.

Makar's persistence led to an interview with the girl's sister, where he learned the girl was living in Tulsa, Okla. Authorities there arrested the baby's father for sexual assault and the girl and her newborn son were returned to Wisconsin where she was reunited with her family. The adult father of the baby is being charged with sexual assault of a child, interfering with the custody of a child and taking a juvenile out of state.

"The outstanding diligence of Deputy Makar helped secure the reunion of a family and (he) is certainly deserving of this recognition," Graves said.

Deputy Duane Warrenburg
Meritorious Service Award

With a knowledge of eBay and a desire to catch thieves, Warrenburg was able to help solve a burglary case last January. Warrenburg took a personal interest in the case and while off-duty, searched the Internet and was able to determine that some of the stolen items were being sold.

Warrenburg, working with the Elkhorn Police Department, set up a fake eBay account and was able to communicate with the suspects through the online auction site. He found out an address of a suspect, in Rockford, and was able to secure a search warrant. As a result, several sentimental and valuable items were recovered from the home and returned to the owners. Two suspects were eventually arrested. Both were career criminals and one man confessed to over 300 burglaries in Wisconsin and Illinois. He is serving 11 years in prison.

"Without Duane's help this case may still be unsolved," Graves said. "Deputy Warrenburg's determination and off-duty efforts assisted in the police actions taken in this case."

Deputy Ira Martin
Distinguished Service Award

Martin continues to show his commitment to making Walworth County roads a safer place. He issued 283 traffic citations in 2006 and arrested 47 intoxicated drivers. But he didn't stop there. He made eight felony and 15 misdemeanor arrests, without warrants, and made one felony and 15 misdemeanor arrests from warrants.

He is one of the most active and productive members of the midnight shift, Graves said.

Corrections Officer Keith Clayton
Distinguished Service Award

Clayton decided enough was enough and he wouldn't tolerate the jail orientation video-cassette tapes, shown to new prisoners, getting worn out or cluttered any longer. With a sergeant's permission, Clayton offered to take the expensive but worn-out tapes home and convert them to DVDs. Now, all of the tapes are on a single disk, which has significantly reduced the clutter in the jail intake area and the sound and picture quality has been greatly enhanced. He also converted the Huber Dorm instructional tapes to DVD.

Clayton saved the county money and increased the quality of county materials, Graves said.

Support Services Worker

Joe Leedle
Distinguished Service Award

Leedle is the jack-of-all-trades at the sheriff's department. With department budget crunches and staff reshuffling, Leedle has been a chef, courier, mailman, cleaner and instructor. And he comes to work each day at 3 a.m. with a smile on his face and without a complaint.

Whether it's setting up a full dinner for the county Fire Investigations Task Force, cleaning a biohazard spill or having the floors waxed, "He is the one we turn to," Graves said.

James Felland
Public Service Award

Felland, a helicopter pilot, has assisted the department on several occasions. He has volunteered the use of his chopper to locate a missing child in the town of Lyons, discover marijuana grow sites and find a fleeing fugitive in a Delavan cornfield.

He has provided this service without compensation and has never asked for reimbursement for his fuel costs.

His cooperation and volunteerism has made the county a safer place to live, Graves said.

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