MILFORD, Conn. - Gennaro Romeo Jr., 24, an HVAC worker, was named a state winner in the 15th Annual Dickies American Worker of the Year® Awards.

The 2006 Connecticut Worker of the Year said in his winning entry that he nominated himself "... because of the hard work I put in for my trade. I attended school, workshops, and also took a six-month course servicing A/C and heading for the U.S. Air Force. I put in 50 to 60 hours of hard work.

"It is important to me to get the job done and on time correctly," said Romeo. "It is also important to me because it's not a job; it's my life and my career that will take me far."

Romeo has been working for Encon for the past four years, mainly installing heating and air conditioning ductwork. He said he loves his job. "I really enjoy working with my hands. I chose this field, went to school for it, and it's become a nice fit," he said.

State winners and five national finalists were selected from among thousands of e-mailed and audio entries collected online and in person. The Dickies American Worker of the Year Mobile Tour, presented by the Professional Bull Riders, made stops at PBR events, jobsites, and retailers as it crisscrossed the nation.

Voting is currently underway for a national winner at through Oct. 7. The five national finalists are Lance Beto, 42, an electrical lineman in Helena, Montana; David Bildstein, 42, a steel mill bricklayer in Cleveland; Janet Buras, 49, an elementary school principal in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Chris Davidson, 36, a professional mountain bike team mechanic from Salt Lake City; and Jeremy Gianzero, 26, an ER nurse and mechanic in Colorado Springs, Colo. Voters will be automatically entered to win a trip to Las Vegas to the 2006 PBR World Finals.

According to Dickies, the top vote getter will be named the national 2006 Dickies American Worker of the Year and will be awarded a 2007 Ford F150 truck equipped with a special suspension by FabTech, as well as a custom-painted BMC Chopper, an "Ultimate Grill Setup" from Johnsonville Brats, boots from Rocky Boot, and a VIP stay at the Mandalay Bay for the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.

State winners receive $200 in merchandise, including a custom-made American Worker of the Year jacket.

"The American work ethic always shines through in the top entries," said Jon Ragsdale, vice president of marketing for the Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. "These are the unsung heroes of our economy who take pride in doing a good job every day, and Dickies wants to give them the recognition they deserve."

Publication date: 09/11/2006