Hershel Kirk and Donald Doxsee Jr. of Herndon received their Christmas presents early last month. The two, who had been disabled in separate incidents in November, were given a day of sick or annual leave by several fellow employes in mid-December after their 12 days of sick leave ran out.
"I sure am appreciative," said Kirk, who works as an equipment operator for the Department of Public Works. "I appreciate especially that everybody in the town contributed, not just those in my department."
Kirk, 23, broke his leg and ankle Nov. 3 after falling through the second floor of an old barn while on a hunting trip in Arcola, Va. He will be in a cast for another six months, but said he hopes to return to do office work by the end of the month.
Doxsee, 22, a groundskeeper at the Herndon golf course, was shot accidentally Nov. 24 while on a hunting trip in Woodstock, Va. A relative had been playing with a .44 magnum pistol, said Doxsee, when it went off, sending a bullet into Doxsee's abdomen. "If it wasn't for the Lord, I wouldn't be here today," he said.
Doxsee said he will be able to return to work this week. He added that he thinks the gesture by his fellow town employes "is great. I'm glad the people of Herndon are nice enough that they would do that for me."
The Town Council passed a resolution Dec. 11 allowing town employes to transfer a day of sick or annual leave to each of the men. According to Town Manager Ed Martin, this is only the third time in recent memory that town employes have been able to transfer leave to other employes. The first, said Martin, was in 1977, ironically, to benefit Kirk's father, who had tuberculosis of the kidney and had to have the organ removed. The second time was in 1979, when town clerk Mary Ingram was critically ill with a rare strain of meningitis.
Martin said the idea for town employes to transfer their leave came separately from the two men's respective bosses, Dave Larsen, director of public works, and John Tuttich, superintendent of golf course maintenance.
"It was just a coincidence that the two events happened around the same time," said Martin. "They Larsen and Tuttich held each of the men in high esteem, and they brought the matter to my attention. Then I brought it to the council." The council voted unanimously to approve the transfer of employe leave.
Mayor Richard Thoesen said the action by the council to approve the transfer is "something we take very seriously. These are town funds we are talking about. . . . Sick leave is a privilege, not a right -- you should only take it when you are sick." But, he said, because the two accidents caused "tremendous financial difficulty for the families" involved, the council's decision was clearly "the right thing to do."
Transfer of sick or annnual leave is a highly unusual practice in civil service. It is impossible, for instance, for employes of either Fairfax County or the federal government to make such a transfer.
Martin said that leave donated by town employes will be paid to the two men at their respective salaries, not that of the donor. At least 20 employes have donated leave to each man, he said. Town employes generally receive one day of sick leave per month and at least one day of annual leave per month, though the rate of annual leave varies according to seniority, he added.
Thoesen said, "This gesture fits in well with Herndon -- we're still a small town and we try to help each other out."