Milton man named Sussex County Employee of the Year

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 12/24/21

GEORGETOWN — On workdays, Guillermo Montalvo Merino needs no extra coaxing to get up, get ready and head off to his job as a rehabilitation specialist with Sussex County’s Community …

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Milton man named Sussex County Employee of the Year


GEORGETOWN — On workdays, Guillermo Montalvo Merino needs no extra coaxing to get up, get ready and head off to his job as a rehabilitation specialist with Sussex County’s Community Development & Housing office.

“I enjoy coming into work. I enjoy getting work done,” says Mr. Montalvo Merino, honored recently as the 2021 Employee of the Year for county government.

A native of Mexico who came to America from Veracruz when he was not quite 10 years old, Mr. Montalvo Merino, now 29, is a versatile, valuable, bilingual asset as an employee who wears multiple hats.

“As a rehab specialist I get all the work done between meeting with homeowners, taking a look at what home repairs need to be done,” said Mr. Montalvo Merino. “I usually specify mostly on handicap accessibility, for handicapped or older residents of the county. I also am in charge of other overall repairs, roofs, handicap bathrooms, floors, windows, siding, overall home repairs.”

“Guillermo really handles the most vulnerable people,” said Brandy Nauman, Community Development and Housing Director for Sussex County. “He does a lot of our emergency home repairs. They are people that are really experiencing significant issues and emergency. When they call, they have no heat, no running water, or they need handicap accessibility. This is really reactive work that he does — quick and fast.”

He also has other roles with the County. Mr. Montalvo Merino was lauded for, among other things, his efforts in the past year to assist other departments, namely the Marriage Bureau, where he provided interpreter services on short notice, including days off, as the office was shorthanded.

His Spanish/English communication skill and knowledge has also come into play in other departments, among them Billing and Planning and Zoning.

“For example, Planning and Zoning might have a contractor or a citizen wants to do improvements on their home, but they don’t understand how to fill out the proper paperwork to get a building permit,” said Mr. Montalvo Merino. “And I helped a couple citizens this year during tax season.”

A resident of Milton, Mr. Montalvo Merino considers himself “a people person.”

“If people need help and I am available I am always there,” he said. “Basically, I just want to help people out. One of the main reasons why I love working here at Community Development is it’s such a rewarding job to help a homeowner or someone and see a smile on their face when the job is finished. I love working with the people in our office. Like Brandi, she is my director, and she is great, and my other coworkers are absolutely fantastic.”

A graduate of Sussex Central High School, Mr. Montalvo Merino continued his education at Delaware Technical Community College and Wilmington University. He joined the county workforce, first for one year as a part-timer. He has been full time the past five years.

“We were really excited when Guillermo applied … because we’ve seen such an influx or Spanish speaking residents in Sussex County, specifically homeowners,” said Ms. Nauman. “So having someone in our own department that can help us really get in touch with that population and make them feel comfortable is a huge asset. We also have several Spanish speaking contractors, so that has been a great resource. Also, he has been utilized by various departments in the county.”

“I have learned a lot throughout the years. Every day I feel like I learn something new from my co-worker Mike Jones, or my old director Brad Whaley. He really took me under his wing and showed me a lot of what it takes to get this job done,” said Mr. Montalvo Merino. “Like I said, the rewarding aspect is just fantastic.”

The 2021 winner was announced Dec. 14 during the Sussex County Council’s last meeting of the year. Mr. Montalvo Merino was selected from a field of 10 employees, all quarterly winners, and notable mentions in the past year, for the honor.

Mr. Montalvo Merino, an honorable mention in the second quarter of 2021, received a round of applause from members of county council, county staff, and others as he was presented with the award.

In addition to a plaque, he receives seven bonus vacation days. At present, he has no definite vacation plans.

“I’m not sure,” said Mr. Montalvo Merino. “I think I might just stay home and take a ‘staycation.’”