John Ragland is a happy man.

Ragland, the owner of All Season's Heating and Cooling in Cheyenne, Wyo., was voted the 2005 Wyoming Worker of the Year, an honor bestowed by Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co., makers of Dickies brand work wear.

Ragland can thank his wife, DeeAnn, who nominated her husband for the honor. In her winning essay, Mrs. Ragland wrote, "From subzero to blistering hot temperatures, he's out there in the elements to make sure his customers have heat or air conditioning. The elderly and sick are always first on his list to make sure they are comfortable ... His business is almost three years old and he still looks forward to getting up in the morning and going to work."

Ragland knows he is needed, as Wyoming experiences freezing winters and searing summers.

"The most extreme weather is when we're working," he said. "It's those times of the year when people need our help the most."

One national and 50 state recipients were selected from thousands of entries, submitted by appreciative spouses, parents, co-workers, friends, kids, bosses, etc. who were given up to 100 words to explain why their nominee deserves special recognition as an American worker.

In addition to the national winner, the awards honor one worker from each of the 50 states, including a North Dakota railroad conductor, a Maine ship scullery worker, an Illinois carpenter, a Louisiana mechanic, a New Jersey janitor, and an Arizona Army sergeant, who will each receive over $500 in cash and prizes.

The national 2005 American Worker of the Year is Tim Carroll, 39, of Bartlett, Tenn. Carroll remodels homes in low-income neighborhoods in the Memphis area and was nominated by his admiring wife, Sherry, who wrote, "He works on each house as though his own family might live there. While the job can be dirty, he doesn't let that stop him ... Tim cares about making quality homes affordable for others."

The American work ethic always shines through in the top entries, said Jon Ragsdale, vice president of marketing for the Williamson-Dickie.

"These are the unsung heroes of our economy, who take pride in doing a good job every day without public recognition," said Ragsdale. "That's what makes the awards so special on Labor Day."

Publication date: 09/12/2005