Four community members were honored Nov. 21 at a special event sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. The 11th annual Distinguished Citizens Award event recognized resident Penny Sills as citizen of the year, Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson for public service and Thomas Thomas and Jason Thomas as the most savvy businessmen around. Approximately 85 people were in attendance -- an excellent turnout for the snowiest night of the season so far.
"The turnout was far beyond our expectations," said Bernice Tarolli, administrator for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. "The event was very successful."
Sills, born in Berwick, Penn., first came to the area as a Cazenovia College student studying merchandising. Since then, she married, raised three children and became involved in various organizations such as the Girl Scouts, home and school associations and Habitat for Humanities.
She said she considers Fayetteville Free Library's the Artist-of-the-Month program to be one of her longest and largest volunteer jobs.
"I have enjoyed meeting the various artists throughout the years," she said, noting that many have become her friends.
Sills chose Dr. Robert Heckman, president of Friends of the Library and associate dean of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, to introduce her at the celebration.
Mayor Mark Olson
Born and raised in Fayetteville, Olson continues to make Fayetteville his home with wife Mary and two sons Nate, 12 and Noah, 6.
A firefighter for more than 25 years, he currently serves as captain in the Fayetteville Fire Department. He served two terms as trustee on the Fayetteville Village Board. Olson was elected mayor in 2004.
Throughout his tenure in local government, he has served as liaison to the planning, zoning and historic boards, as well as to the Fayetteville Senior Center and the Fayetteville Free Library.
"From a very young age I was taught to give back more than you receive," Olson said. "And in the case of Fayetteville, I can think of no better way to give back than to be able to do what I get to do each and everyday."