“It has been one heck of a year,” said Sgt. Tracy Stuart, the Richard Stockton College Police Department’s first K-9 officer.

Stuart was named the college’s Officer of the Year on July 10, almost a year after an accident left her in a wheelchair for months.

Last September she was hit by two cars while running in the safety zone on West Bay Avenue in her hometown of Barnegat, Stuart said. Both legs below the knees were broken, and she had broken ribs and a fractured back.

“It’s been such a long year for me, and it made the award all the more meaningful,” said Stuart, 42. “The support I received from the Stockton community is amazing.”

She couldn’t wait to get back to work and returned to light duty using a walker last December, she said. In late April she got back to regular duty with 4-year-old K-9 Hemi, a chocolate Labrador retriever purchased with a $50,000 federal grant for explosives detection.

Stuart and Hemi graduated from the New Jersey State Police Explosives K-9 Scent School in 2011 and serve on the Office of Homeland Security’s Regional Task Force, NJ Detect and Render Safe. They will work the Super Bowl in the Meadowlands in North Jersey next February, she said, and can be called to any location in the state.

“It’s been two years now, and the excitement has not left me,” Stuart said of her work with Hemi.

Stuart joined Stockton in 2007, where she embraced community policing, helped organize a Neighborhood Watch and is a Rape Aggression Defense instructor. She maintains a vigorous training schedule and got Hemi dual-certified as a tracking K-9, a Stockton representative said.

Sculpture in Stone Harbor

Jos Chora, of Egg Harbor Township, has installed a 20-foot-tall by 10-foot-wide sculpture at the entrance of The Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor. The 37-room luxury boutique hotel, at 96th Street and Third Avenue, opened June 20.

The figurative sculpture of cattails and reeds is the creation of Chora; assistant and metal sculptor Michael DelFiandra; and Chora’s wife, mosaic artist Judy Chora.

Sterling volunteer

Warren Straubmuller, of Villas, is Cape Regional Medical Center’s Special Touch Volunteer for the second quarter of 2013.

Straubmuller has been volunteering at the hospital for a decade, and now his wife, Debbie, volunteers with him in the pharmacy, a hospital representative said. To date, the retired project manager has donated more than 2,500 hours to Cape Regional.

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.