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Tisha Harty, right, social services director at Asta Care Center in Pontiac, presented Earl Dutko, left, head of investigations at the Livingston County Sheriff's Department and Marvin Rutledge, Chief Deputy, with awards recognizing the department for its efforts in fighting substance abuse during a heroes recognition at the center, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. (The Pantagraph, David Proeber)

PONTIAC -- Moments after being recognized as one of three dozen Hometown Heroes on Wednesday at the Asta Care Center of Pontiac, former Pontiac tourism director Betty Estes said she wasn't surprised that Asta residents honored local people for their contributions to the city.

"This is why Pontiac is Pontiac," Estes said. "I moved here, but I call this my home. The people here are incredible and very appreciative of others."

The ceremony was part of National Nursing Home Week. Soldiers, firefighters, police officers, correctional officers, city workers and volunteers for local food pantries were among those recognized.

"Our theme for National Nursing Home Week is ‘Fulfilling the Promise,' and each one of the people recognized have made a promise to this community to make it better and keep it safe," said Kathy Finkenbinder, Asta Care Center activity director.

"A lot of these people work thankless jobs in our community and so often, they hear about the things they didn't do right," she said. "Today, we are reminding them of the things they did do right and that we appreciate their efforts."

Pontiac Streets Supervisor Chris Brock was praised for maintaining the city's streets, and more specifically, for how his department handled the February blizzard.

"Not only did they open up the streets during an awful storm, but they picked up our staff and brought them to work, and that is something that our residents really appreciated," Finkenbinder said.

Brock was grateful the Asta residents recognized the department's work.

"Many of these residents probably worked in similar jobs and contributed to their community in different ways as well, so it means a lot to me and our department," Brock said.

The Pontiac Police Department also was thanked for its commitment to keeping the community safe and providing educational programs to groups, schools and local agencies.

"It's great to be recognized for the work that we do and it's also great that the residents recognize us as part of the community as well," Pontiac police Maj. Jim Woolford said. "It's always nice to go to something positive because we don't often get to go to something like this."

Asta resident Helen Morrisey said the event was positive for the residents as well.

"It's really nice that we can actually see some of the people that mean a lot to our community," she said. "To have them come here for a visit and allow us to thank them in person is a special touch."


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