Hundreds of law enforcement personnel and supporters gathered in the El Campo Civic Center Thursday to honor the brave county men and women who keep residents safe.
The Wharton County 100 Club hosted the banquet, this year a combined affair with the 2023 membership meeting and the 2022 awards given to members of Wharton County’s Finest.
El Campo PD
El Campo Police Sgt. Arnold Terrazas was chosen as the ECPD’s Officer of the Year. Terrazas joined the ECPD in 2005 after leaving the Eagle Lake PD. He was promoted through the ranks and now serves as an investigator.
“This past year, as a new investigator, Arnold served as the lead for a homicide in February which ended with two suspects being arrested. He and his team of investigators spent countless hours working to solve the case ... For his hard work and dedication, the men and women of the El Campo Police Department have selected him as Officer of the Year,” El Campo Police Chief Gary Williamson said.
Crystal Mican was recognized as ECPD’s Support Staff Person of the Year. Mican, started her career with the department in 2018 as a telecommunications operator and, after receiving her Advanced Telecommunicator certification, now serves as a field training officer.
“Crystal is always willing to take on a new challenge, which was evident when she helped with the accreditation validations and audits. She volunteers to help at department events for community engagement. She inspires others to do their best,” Williamson said.
A trio of citizens earned the ECPD’s Citizen of the Year Award. Sandra Fellers, Kaydi Kacer and Jessica Hopper were all recognized as Citizens of the Year.
“In December 2021, ECPD investigated a shooting. A young man was pulling into his driveway when he was ambushed and shot multiple times. The man was able to drive down the street for a couple of blocks trying to reach the hospital. He soon realized that he was not going to make it to the hospital on his own, so he stopped outside of a local business that hosts special events. The man stumbled to the back patio where he collapsed. It just so happened that the faculty and staff of the El Campo High School were having their Christmas party at this place. Sandra Fellers, Kaydi Kacer and Jessica Hopper leaped into to action and rendered aid to the gunshot victim until EMS arrived,” Williamson said.
Fellers now serves as principal of El Campo Middle School, where Kacer and Hopper are both teachers at ECHS.
Wharton County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Austin Zubik was awarded Officer of the Year, a newer recruit having started in September of 2021 as a patrol deputy before being promoted to corporal as an interdiction deputy.
“He dedicates his time to pursuing the evil, poison and all contraband coming down our highways ... He has been involved with dozens of pursuits interdicting human smuggling loads. He has been relentless in fighting the evil on our highways,” Sheriff Shannon Srubar said.
Henry Hernandez was presented with the Correctional Officer of the Year award after almost seven years of service. Starting as a correctional officer, Hernandez was recently promoted to sergeant and now he manages an entire shift in the jail.
“His attitude for the job is top notch ... Recently in an altercation in the jail, he was assaulted and received injury to his face and damaged his glasses. He still treats everyone with respect and gives 100 percent,” Srubar said.
A familiar face was honored with the Support Staff of the Year plaque, Wendy Graves. She got her start in 1993 in the clerical division before being promoted to the Sheriff’s Assistant in 1996, a position she holds to this day.
“I never have to worry about reports being late. We encounter deadlines all the time with the state and federal government when it comes to reports. ... She takes care of them all,” Srubar said.
Mike Ryan of Ryan Services was awarded Wharton County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizen of the Year award.
“Whether it’s the county fair, a church fundraiser, a law enforcement organized event, wounded warrior projects, or a community-sponsored event, you will see Mike Ryan there. He supports them all. A true supporter of WCSO and all law enforcement,” Srubar said.