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Award was a welcome surprise every time

Nancy Frank was a missing person. And because of that she almost missed receiving the Gail Peterson Award from the Citrus County Health Department.

Confused? Well, as radio commentator Paul Harvey would say, here's "the rest of the story."

Each year, health department officials give the award to a person who has done outstanding work in the community or the department. The recipient usually receives the award at the department's quarterly staff meeting in January.

Because of other commitments, Frank, a nursing program specialist with the department, missed the meeting. In February, she missed another chance when she was unable to attend the Team Leader Conference meeting.

She finally received the award at the March TLC meeting. "When they called out my name, you could have blown me off my chair," Frank said. "I was totally taken by surprise because it was supposed to be awarded in January."

Receiving the award "was like getting an Olympic gold medal," Frank said. "I took it home and slept with it."

Frank, who is "working on my 22nd year" in public health service, has worked with the health department almost 10 years.

She has been involved in the Teen Task Force, helped organize teen dances during the school year and helped produce the Teen's Night Out call-in television show on Time Warner Cable channel 14.

Frank also helps organize the annual county baby shower, which offers information and gifts to new and expectant parents.

Frank has two grown daughters and two grandchildren: one 15 months old, the other "7 going on 40." Frank said she enjoys her work, particularly her contact with teens.

"It keeps me young," she said, reminding a reporter, "It's totally different when you're working with them, not living with them."

After receiving the award in March, Frank was told she would have to return it Friday so officials could "re-present it officially in front of God and everybody" at the April quarterly staff meeting.

But now that the brouhaha is over and the award is back in her hands, Frank won't be heading off to Disney World. She'll stay right here.

After all, she said, "Work goes on."