Two state employees have been honored with the 1995-96 Outstanding State Employee Award.

Marge Tempest with the state Division of Water Rights and Joe Thomas of the Department of Environmental Quality were chosen for the award for having "continually shown a strong commitment to the state and citizens of Utah through their hard work and dedication," said Gov. Mike Leavitt.The award is given annually to honor dedicated state employees in non-management positions. Individuals are nominated by co-workers, supervisors or a private citizen.

The nominees are evaluated on creative problem-solving, their relationships with the public and co-workers, and their commitment to efficiencies in state government.

Tempest and Thomas were chosen from 42 nominees.

Tempest is an appropriations specialist with the Division of Water Rights, where she has worked for 30 years.

When the division recently decided to color-code some 150,000 water rights files, Tempest began taking boxes of files home with her to code them on her own time.

Her efforts enabled the division to complete the project months ahead of schedule. Furthermore, "in a business where it is often impossible to please the customer, her courteous manner and helpful attitude has turned many disgruntled water right owners into appreciative customers," the nomination stated.

Thomas, an environmental scientist, is recognized nationally for his technical and administrative expertise. He represents Utah on national policy committees that make decisions regarding automobile emissions.

"He has developed state of the art solutions to environmental problems, many of which are later used by other states and even other countries. Joe's knowledge, skills and abilities are vital to successful implementation of automotive emission control programs that help the state reach federal air quality standards," the nomination stated.

Also recognized were finalists Dan Martinez, a property utilization officer with General Services Surplus Property; RaLynne Takeda, a hunter education officer with the Division of Wildlife Resources; Susan Smith, a contract coordinator for the Division of Facilities, Construction and Management; and Glen Richards, visual arts coordinator at the Utah Arts Council.