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UTAH HONORS CORRECTIONS VOLUNTEER

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Joe Simmers may consider his work in the Adult Probation and Parole office a reward in itself, but the state correctional system is doing more to recognize his contributions.

The 63-year-old St. George resident has been selected as the volunteer of the year by both the Utah Correctional Association and the Utah Department of Corrections."I was a little bit overwhelmed," he said. "I just do what I'm supposed to do."

Simmers volunteers up to 25 hours a week to conduct interviews, create 14- to 16-page pre-sentence reports on convicts and manage a small caseload.

"I do everything except chase them down," he said.

"Rain or shine he's here," attested agent Ronnie Judkins, who nominated Simmers for the award.

Simmers' reports, which go to judges to help them decide the fates of convicted prisoners, are so concise that a judge from Logan once called the St. George office to compliment them, Judkins said.

"You never hear of a judge doing that," he said.

Simmers has been involved with corrections all his life, working his way all the way from prison line guard to probation supervisor to the role of psychologist with an emphasis on drug and alcohol dependency.

John Graff, the Corrections Department's regional administrator, said Simmers' work gives the other agents time to be in the field protecting the public.