By Dan Hust
WHITE LAKE Bethel’s code enforcement officer is tops literally.
Last week, BJ Gettel was named the ‘Code Official of the Year’ by the New York State Building Officials Conference (NYSBOC).
“This is the highest award an official can receive,” Gettel confirmed this week.
NYSBOC’s Executive Board chose Gettel for this distinction out of 2,500 members, said Immediate Past President Wayne Cichon.
“It goes to truly dedicated code enforcement officials who supply above-standard performance” at both a local and state level, he explained.
Gettel is the first woman in NYSBOC’s 84-year history to earn this award.
“Clearly, BJ was a level above,” Cichon said of the selection process. “This is definitely an award this lady deserved.”
“On behalf of the town board and myself, we are very proud of BJ,” affirmed Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm.
He called her tough but compassionate in a role few have the stamina to endure.
“She’s doing a great job at it,” he said.
Gettel has served the Town of Bethel for the past dozen years over a decade as building inspector and code enforcement officer.
But she has also become active at the regional and state code enforcement levels. In another “female first,” she was just named secretary for NYSBOC’s board at the September 13 convention at Vernon Downs.
The local job is demanding in and of itself, with Gettel being called out at all hours. Last year, she won a NYSBOC Service Award for her efforts with the flooding and coordination concerns arising from hurricanes Irene and Lee.
So why pile on regional and statewide duties?
“If I can make a little difference someplace else, why not?” she explained.
“Helping people” is what drives Gettel, who said she would rather resolve problems for residents than cite them for it.
“Issuing a ticket is the last thing you want to happen,” she related.
But working across cultures, religions, ethnicities, even families is no easy task.
“You’ve got to be able to do five things at once,” Gettel said.
Those talents have been noticed at NYSBOC, confirmed Cichon, himself a code officer with the Town of Poughkeepsie.
“She’s just an outstanding individual, period,” he said. “I can’t speak highly enough of her. She’s very good at what she does.”
Gettel, though, didn’t expect to earn this award.
“They originally told me it was somebody else,” she laughed. “I thought it was a dream!”
But it’s no dream.
“It’s mind-boggling I was selected,” she acknowledged. “To be selected out of that 2,500 is an honor and a privilege.”
Bethel Code Enforcement Officer BJ Gettel, right, is given the NYS Building Officials Conference (NYSBOC) Code Official of the Year Award last week by then-NYSBOC President (and now Immediate Past President) Wayne Cichon.