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Honors for Clearwater police, chef educator Leslie Eckert

Good for you | by Nova Beall

On March 7, the Clearwater Police Department recognized several of its officers for their lifesaving actions, investigative efforts and policing strategies.

Officer Brian Tejera was presented the Medal of Meritorious Service for preventing a mentally unstable woman from jumping off a sea wall with an infant in her arms. While continuing to speak to the woman, he managed to close the distance between them until he was able to take the baby from her.

The Burglary Unit was presented the Chiefs Unit Citation for its teamwork and strategy to overcome investigative challenges and legal roadblocks in a large volume of burglary cases, resulting in numerous charges and arrests, case clearances and the recovery of stolen property. Unit members include Sgt. Wilson Lee; Detectives Darla Collamore, Matthew Dupree, Christopher Precious, Jonathan Walser and Jonathan Yuen; and Officer Christopher White.

The Downtown Bike Team also earned the Chiefs Unit Citation for its part in the creation and implementation of the department's homeless initiative. Homeless encampments were identified and dismantled, ordinance violations and trespass warnings were issued, arrests were made and non-criminal alternatives were provided to multiple homeless individuals. Unit members include Sgts. John Connor and Joseph Falcone and Officers Adam Jaques, Jason Jones, Richard Long, Ryan McMullen, Leonard Merritt, Jesse Myers, Jarred Stiff and Brian Whitehead.

A Letter of Commendation was presented to Officers Christian Zarra and James Perez who, while on patrol in the CPD Marine Unit, rescued five people who had been ejected from a boat.

Sgt. Ramon Cosme and Officer Shane Cason received a Letter of Commendation for saving the life of a woman in distress floating in unsafe waters off Clearwater Beach.

Officer Albert Granville was selected as the city's March 2013 Employee of the Month. The accolade went to the officer for his compassion and generosity while checking on the welfare of occupants living in a house that was in an unsafe condition.

Inside, he observed three residents who were unable to care for themselves as well as two dogs. He also noted that there was no food in the residence and, because of the occupant's condition, he could tell that they had not been eating well. Using his own money, Granville purchased dinner and provided for the residents. He told no one and sought no praise for his unselfish act.

• • •

Clearwater's Leslie Eckert, culinary chef-instructor at the Art Institute of Tampa, was named the American Culinary Federation Southeast Region Chef Educator of the Year at the ACF Southeast Regional Conference, which took place March 1-4 in Louisville, Ky.

Established in 1988, the ACF Chef Educator of the Year award pays tribute to an active culinary educator whose knowledge, skills and expertise have enhanced the image of the professional chef and have given leadership, guidance and direction to students seeking a career in the culinary profession.

The 2013 regional conference brought hundreds of chefs, cooks and food service professionals to Louisville. The conference provided attendees with opportunities to advance their professional development and enhance their culinary skills through business seminars, cooking demonstrations featuring the latest trends and techniques, cooking competitions and awards.

"I am honored to represent the ACF Southeast Region for the national title of ACF Chef Educator of the Year at ACF's national convention in July," said Eckert. "I could not have won this award without the help of my students and alumni."

Eckert was selected from three other chef candidates nominated by colleagues for the award. She will now vie for the national title against her three regional counterparts at the 2013 ACF National Convention July 21-25 in Las Vegas.

She has a bachelor's degree in culinary management from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in business administration from South University, Savannah, Ga.

In Tampa, Eckert has worked at Mise en Place and Tampa Bay Marriott Waterside and taught pastry classes at Publix Aprons Cooking School. She volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, the Great American Teach-In and The Centre in Tampa. She is a member of ACF Tampa Bay Culinary Association Inc.

In addition to being a culinary instructor, she is the owner of Simply Decadent Dessert Catering Co. in Clearwater. She is also a regular speaker on pastry arts at the Florida Art Educators Association Conference, Tallahassee.

Mail Good For You items to Nova Beall at 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756; fax to (727) 445-4119; or email

Honors for Clearwater police, chef educator Leslie Eckert 03/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 7:55pm]
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