By Dave Eck
BATAVIA - After Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Nichols voted for his Batavia post's 2002 Trooper of the Year in October, he really didn't give it much thought.
That is, until he learned he had won the award.
"I didn't suspect I would get it at all," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised. It's an honor to get."
The award is particularly pleasing to Trooper Nichols, 30, because it's based on what his peers think of his ability, dedication and personality.
"Those are the people whose opinions mean the most," he said.
Trooper Nichols, a Maineville resident whose father also was a trooper, joined the patrol in 1999. Co-workers say he's made a positive impression.
"It was evident early on in his career that he was going to be a very sharp trooper," said Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Paul Hermes, commander of the Batavia post. "He's just an all-around good guy that treats others with respect, no matter who they are."
The supervisor said Trooper Nichols pays attention to the smallest details in his auto crash investigations, shows dedication to the job and lends a personal touch to the work.
"In all aspects, he's very thorough in what he does," Lt. Hermes said. "We're not worried about what he's doing when he's out there. He's doing the right thing."
Trooper Nichols was drawn to the patrol because of its focus on reducing auto fatalities and its long tradition of strong interaction with the public.
The post recognition put Trooper Nichols in contention for the District Trooper of Year award. That award ended up going to a trooper in Wilmington.
Still, that didn't faze Trooper Nichols or his commander.
"I think he's well on his way to future awards," Lt. Hermes said.
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