By Jesse Wood
Feb. 6, 2015. Awards and recognition are nothing new for Watauga County native Craig Lyons and his staff at the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) office in Boone.
For four straight years, the Boone office, where Lyons has worked for more than two decades and is the head examiner, led the entire state with the highest participation rate in signing up those renewing or applying for driver’s licenses as organ and eye donors.
Recently, Lyons was honored with a different award – NCDMV Examiner of the Year, the highest honor for an examiner in the state of North Carolina. This award makes him eligible for the International Driver Examiner Certification of the Year Award, administered by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).
Lyons was nominated for the state award by his district supervisor and the other two examiners in the Boone office, Jeremy Casey and Fred Henson.
While Lyons said he was proud of the award, he mentioned that others were probably more deserving and that this wouldn’t be possible without the help of Casey and Henson everyday.
“I am sure other people are more deserving. It makes you feel kind of good your district supervisor and coworkers put you in for it, but I’ll tell you right of the bat [this wouldn’t have happened] if it wasn’t for the guys helping me here,” Lyons said. “It’s a team effort.”
In a nominating letter to an AAMVA official, NCDMV Field Services Assistant Director Charlotte Boyd-Malette noted this selflessness, along with praising the efficiency of the office and Lyons’ great attitude.
“He never takes the credit. When people brag about his service you can always expect the same answer from him, ‘I’m just doing my job,’” Boyd-Malette wrote.
She touted Lyons “as an example of a stellar examiner,” one who has a can-do attitude and interacts with the general public in a positive way.
“His efforts have increased productivity in the Boone driver license office, thus having a major impact in his district. Examiner Lyons’ positive attitude is contagious as he sets examples for others to follow,” Boyd-Malette wrote. “He is extremely loyal and committed to his staff. He exhibits integrity, diversity and quality in the day-to-day operation of his office. Examiner Lyons is the prime example of what a leader should be.”
Lyons noted that it has always been policy to treat people like he would want to be treated.
“And try to be fair in dealing with people and be honest to them, which that’s not hard to do, and try to treat everybody the same, abide by policy, and while doing that try to be friendly and nice,” Lyons said.
Henson, an examiner under Lyons, said that his boss has always been respectful of other people and keeps all of his staff informed.
“We just get along good and get our job done and have a little fun in the office,” Henson said, adding what almost sounded like the office’s motto: “Get the job done. Do it right and have a little fun.”
Before Lyons began working at the local DMV about 23 years ago, he said he used to install hardwood flooring and carpet – harder work by his standards. He said he has never dreaded coming to work at the license office.
“It’s a job, but I’ve enjoyed it and still enjoy it. I still enjoy working with people, and the people I work with here. We live in an area where people are little different here and everybody gets along. It’s a good area and a good area to work in,” Lyons said.
At age 58, Lyons can see retirement in the distance. As he said when questioned, “Sometime down the road I would like to.” While he can retire sooner, he said he might just work until he’s 62.
Lyons is the son of former Watauga County Sheriff Red Lyons. He’s married to Donna Lyons and has two sons: T.J. Proffit, a sergeant with the Boone Police Department and Todd Lyons, a sergeant with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.
Lyons said he’s been lucky to live and work in the High Country for the majority of his life and to also have his two children live and work close to home.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Lyons said.