The downturn in the economy forced many employers to lay off workers, postpone wage increases and reduce benefits.

The downturn in the economy forced many employers to lay off workers, postpone wage increases and reduce benefits.

But tight budgets shouldn't keep employers from recognizing the good work of their employees, Delaware County commissioner Todd Hanks said at the commission's May 27 meeting.

Hanks asked his fellow commissioners to support him in reintroducing a program that recognizes county employees for their years of service.

The commissioners agreed to have acting county administrator Deborah Martin and the human resources department look into ways to honor employees for their service without spending a lot of money.

Hanks said he was prompted to bring up the subject after attending the retirement party for former board of elections director Janet Brenneman, who worked for the county for 35 years.

The county used to hold annual banquets during which employees were given pins for milestones, such as five, 10 or 20 years of service, said Dawn Huston, personnel director for the county.

The banquets stopped a few years ago as the county budget got tighter, said commission president Tommy Thompson.

So did the distribution of pins, Hanks said.

Huston said her department continued to document which employees were due pins and the information will be easy to compile if the commissioners want to begin awarding them again.

"These are difficult economic times, but looking at Janet Brenneman's 35 years, she more than paid for that recognition," Thompson said.

He also noted the county used to pick an employee of the year, but stopped after 2004.

"I would like to reinstate that, too. ... We have employees who go above and beyond and need recognition," he said.

Martin agreed and told commissioners the recognition program began during her tenure as a commissioner.

"I know money is tight but there may be a way to do this on a regular basis" without spending a lot of money, she said.