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Doing his part for the community

Photo by Deb Gau If area residents haven’t met Community Service Officer Cliff Bahr, they might recognize the pickup he drives instead of a squad car. Bahr has served in Marshall since 2002, and his work has ranged from handling animal calls and managing the city’s animal impoundment center, to helping out with recent COVID-19 vaccination events. The city of Marshall recently named Bahr its Employee of the Year for 2020.

MARSHALL — There are a lot of different places you might see Cliff Bahr around Marshall.

He might be helping a person who’s locked themselves out of their car, or getting a lost dog reunited with its owners.

More recently, he’s assisted some of the hundreds of people lining up to receive COVID-19 vaccinations at clinics in Marshall. Just this week, he was directing traffic outside Avera Marshall’s vaccination event on Carlson Street.

“I’m glad to be a part of it,” Bahr said of working with vaccination events in Marshall. “It’s neat to see everyone pull together to resolve an issue.”

There are a lot of different jobs Bahr does as a community service officer with the Marshall Police, including some more “behind the scenes” work, said Marshall Public Safety Director Jim Marshall. And earlier this month, Bahr was recognized for all that work by being named the city’s Employee of the Year for 2020.

“It’s well-deserved,” Marshall said.“You can see he takes a lot of joy in his job.”

“It was a huge surprise,” Bahr said of being named Employee of the Year. He received the award as part of the city of Marshall’s annual employee recognition event, which was held Jan. 11, in a form modified for social distancing. “I was dumbfounded yet, even when I left with the plaque,” he said.

Bahr has served as a Community Service Officer in Marshall since 2002, and it’s been his full-time job since 2011.

Bahr’s work covers a lot of different areas, from “behind the scenes” work assisting Marshall Police, to more public-facing tasks like helping people with animal calls. He works with enforcing city ordinances. Bahr also manages the city of Marshall’s animal impound, and spends part of his day caring for any stray dogs and cats being held in the pound.

“I’ve always liked animals, so that makes it easy,” he said.

One big change came this fall, with the start of a Facebook page for the Marshall impound where people can see photos of animals that are up for adoption or waiting to be reunited with their owners.

“That’s been a tremendous help,” Bahr said — sometimes calls have come within minutes of posting a photo. “Thanks to the Facebook page, we’ve had different organizations step forward and help us with placement of animals.” Bahr said he’s worked with Marshall and Tracy area animal rescues as well.

Bahr says one of the rewarding things about taking care of animals in the impound is seeing a skittish dog or cat gradually get more comfortable around people, and find a permanent home. “To see a good outcome for them is a good feeling.”

Bahr has also taken on new responsibilities over the past year, as the community responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has assisted at mass COVID testing events and vaccination clinics in Marshall.

Being part of the COVID-19 vaccination events, and being one of the first people patients met at the vaccination sites, meant Bahr was helping to set the tone for their visit.

“I get to basically visit with them a little bit and help to set them at ease,” he said. In the first groups of seniors receiving vaccinations, patients ranged from people who were excited to get their shots, to people who were a little more nervous, he said. “They made a special point to stop by and chat a little.”

Bahr said he’s liked working to do his part for the community over the past 18 years. But the people he works with have also been a big part of what he’s loved about his job.

“I’ve got a great group of people to work for, that’s number one,” Bahr said of being part of the MPD. “It didn’t seem like I was working with co-workers, it was like one family.”

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