Oct 22, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
The Skaneateles Country Club was full of laughter and gratitude at the Citizen of the Year award dinner on Oct. 17.
Four Skaneateles residents were honored at the biennial event held by the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
This year’s Citizen of the Year honor went to Dr. Bob Werner, who was recognized for his work removing invasive species from Skaneateles Lake as well as other volunteer efforts mainly focusing around the lake and nearby nature.
Werner, a retired SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry professor, has volunteered his time with the Skaneateles Lake Association, Finger Lakes Land Trust and the Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance.
In recent years, Werner was one of the key figures in establishing the Skaneateles Milfoil Eradication Corporation, a group funded through donations that removed much of the milfoil and other invasive aquatic species from Skaneateles Lake. Milfoil is an invasive species that threatened the lake’s ecosystem as well as being pesky for swimmers and fishermen.
He is also chair of the Skaneateles Lake monitoring committee a group that gives the lake what he called an “annual physical,” and recently he collected samples of the foam forming in the lake to be tested for toxins.
Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust Andy Zepp spoke to commend Werner for his efforts at conservation in the Finger Lakes. Werner served on the board of the land trust for six years (their self-imposed term limit) and helped smooth the process with the recent acquisition of a land preserve in Spafford as well as the potential acquisition of land including Grout Brook.
“Bob, based on his scientific training, expertise and passion, has been an advocate, and an effective one, for Skaneateles, but also our entire region, all 11 Finger Lakes,” Zepp said.
Bob DeWitt also spoke to summarize many of Werner’s accomplishments and add in some jokes.
On a serious note, DeWitt commended the four award winners as shining examples of community members dedicated to making a difference. “You see four people here tonight who represent the finest in our town and our community,” he said.
As Werner accepted the award and a painting of the lake, he was surprised by “Milford the milfoil” a costumed visitor who Werner greeted with a hug.
Werner thanked the Skaneateles Foundation for the award and said that there are a lot of other great volunteer efforts in the community that deserve recognition too.
“We have a lot of wonderful candidates out there that deserve this kind of an award, so I really am happy that they are doing it, it’s a wonderful idea,” he said.
Werner named many of the other volunteers with the Lake Association and milfoil efforts whose contributions have also been important to the success story of Skaneateles Lake as deserving recognition. He also thanked his wife of 55 years, Jo.
New this year, the committee also awarded three residents the “Heart and Soul” award also in recognition of service to the community. The inaugural winners were Julie Sharpe, Robin Hess-Rulli and Marian Marchand.
Sharpe was recognized for her compassion in the community including doing good deeds such as cooking meals and helping to take care of people who are sick or aging.
Hess-Rulli was recognized for providing 400 gift baskets for families in need to local outreach organizations each Christmas for the past 10 years.
Marchand has been an active volunteer for more than 50 years in groups such as the firemen’s auxiliary.
All four winners had boxes put out collecting donations to a charity of their choosing. Werner chose the Skaneateles Lake Association, Sharpe chose the Stella Maris Retreat Center, Hess-Rulli chose Skaneateles Outreach and Marchand chose the Skaneateles Firemen’s Auxillary.
Executive Director Sue Dove announced that the foundation had made a $250 donation to the lake association and $100 each to the other three charities.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.