The Lamoille County Planning Commission last week once again honored the people, places and organizations that serve the community.
The annual Jim Marvin Awards for Excellence, established in 1992, are named in honor of a Johnson resident and volunteer “whose unending energy and desire to learn served as a model and challenged others to better their communities as a place to work and live.”
The awards were given out last week at Barnes Camp, near the base of Mount Mansfield in Stowe, and covered two years’ worth of honors. This year, Marvin’s hometown was the epicenter of the awards, with Johnsonites represented in several categories.
Two of them received the Lamoille County Planning Commission’s lifetime achievement award, one of who was there to accept, and one who was sorely missed by her colleagues.
Lea Kilvádyová, who died in March, had worked for regional planning commission since 2016, notably as the lead on the brownfields and emergency management grants and the formation of the Lamoille FiberNet Communications Union District.
Prior to working at the commission, Kilvádyová served the town and village of Johnson and was instrumental in the Main Street Project and the redevelopment of the former Grand Union Plaza, wrote grants for School Street enhancements and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, and busied herself volunteering at Legion Field and Old Mill Park playgrounds.
The other 2021 lifetime achievement award winner is Gordy Smith, most recently the chair of the Johnson village trustees. Smith served the Johnson community as an elected official for 38 years as well as in a variety of volunteer roles. That includes 40 years as the town fire warden.
Smith stepped down last December following what he called “a constant barrage” against him and other town officials and firefighters from community members, primarily regarding the village’s handling of racial equity matters, such as flying a Black Lives Matter flag from a flagpole in front of the town offices and fire department.
Since last year’s lifetime achievement award couldn’t be given out during the pandemic, Duncan Tingle got his due this year.
Tingle, a Hyde Park resident, has served as an educator in Stowe, East Montpelier and other area schools. He has served on the Restorative Justice Board, Village Improvement Association and the Court House Clock Restoration Committee, on which he served alone.
“His contributions to the community are too numerous to list here,” the commission stated. “He never makes it look like work, enjoys being with people, sharing ideas and getting good things accomplished.”
Another holdover from last year, the 2020 award for community service was given to Breakfast on Us, run by the United Community Church of Morrisville. The idea for Breakfast on Us started several years when it was noticed that people coming to the church for warm clothes in the winter were also hungry.
Members of the church began preparing sandwiches to hand out when people came to request clothes or other assistance. The program now serves breakfast five days a week, 52 weeks a year, and has served over 13,000 breakfasts. Interrupted by COVID-19, the breakfasts restarted in July.
This year’s community service award went to Sally Laughlin, who is the driving force behind the recently created Peter Krusch Nature Preserve in Cambridge. She also serves as president of the Friends of Green River Reservoir.
Krusch died in 2018 at age 87. Laughlin, his wife, spearheaded the nature preserve project to continue Krusch’s vision — he had worked with the Vermont Land Trust to conserve 27 acres of his land to create the preserve. Laughlin worked to nearly double that, and the 51-acre preserve was officially established last winter. It officially opens Oct. 2.
More than 130 community members donated to help the town acquire the property and cover the initial management costs. Work began on trails this year.
Honorable mention for the Marvin in community service is Lois Frey, yet another Johnson resident. Frey holds leadership positions in the town conservation commission and historical society.
“Lois has been, and continues to be, a committed, hardworking, and extremely humble contributor to the Johnson community. Her volunteerism and good works know no bounds,” the commission stated.
This year’s winner of the Marvin Award for project design, which has been given out since 1993, is Jenna’s Promise. Much has been said about the organization founded by Johnson residents Greg and Dawn Tatro in 2019 in memory of their daughter, Jenna, who died of an opioid overdose.
Jenna’s Promise, the centerpiece of which is the old Catholic Church where Jenna was baptized now known as Jenna’s House, a community center dedicated to recovery and substance use prevention.
The project design honorable mention goes to Holcomb House. Owned by the Town of Johnson, it is the home of the Johnson Historical Society, which has renovated the property to house its extensive collections. It’s also where Lois Frey presumably spends a lot of her time, so there’s some symmetry to that pair of planning commission mentions.