GOCA Awards 2007
The 2007 ceremony was held at Longwood Recreation Center on Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm.
Citizen of the Year: Janet Terry
Local resident who sparked the idea of a farmers market in Olney and who then led a remarkably successful effort to make that idea a reality. After seeing how well farmers markets did in other areas, she proposed the idea of an Olney farmers market (to include arts and crafts booths) to GOCA and the local business community as well as farmers, local artists, and others. Her enthusiastic and articulate presentations about the economic and other benefits to Olney from such an event generated significant support and interest, and Janet quickly put together a committee of volunteers and other community members and created a website and a nonprofit corporation to bring the idea of a farmers market to fruition. Under her leadership and as a result of her energy and contagious “can-do” attitude, a farmer’s market location was established, farmers and artists agreed to participate, comprehensive publicity was arranged, and the Olney Farmers Market opened in record time, a mere three months after the concept was proposed. The market dates in the fall of 2007 were a great success and there are expanded commitments from farmers and vendors for the spring.
Contribution to the Community:Our House, Bill Caldwell, Friends of Risa Pyles
Local residential job training center for at-risk adolescents which has provided vital community service to support Olney non-profit organizations and events. These youngsters have provided the manpower for a variety of activities, such as building, maintaining, storing, and setting up the stage used during Olney Days, patrolling the fall-out area for the Olney Days fireworks, helping with the set-up and breakdown for Montgomery General Hospital Women’s Board Annual Bazaar and Picnic, and helping with set-up and breakdown of both the Olney Chamber of Commerce’s National Night Out and Community Night events. They also set up (at 6:00 am) and took down the tents on Sundays for the Olney Farmers & Artists Market. Without the services provided by the Our House residents the local organizations that have benefited from those services would have had to find more volunteers or pay for the needed services, and the events might well have been less successful in terms of smooth operation and cost.
Architect/planner who made and arranged for a very significant pro bono contribution of time and materials to the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee (OTCAC) in connection with the creation of the Draft Illustrative Concept Plan for Olney Town Center. Under his leadership, his firm, RTKL Associates, donated hours of professional time and materials to research concept plan requirements, write and illustrate the document, facilitate several OTCAC meetings, and present the results at community meetings and through mailings and other outreach activities. This professional planning document has provided the OTCAC with an invaluable tool that OTCAC and the community can use for years to come to influence and evaluate redevelopment plans for the Olney Town Center are they are presented..
Friends of Risa Pyles
Ad hoc committee formed to assist Greenwood ES teacher Risa Pyles, a single parent of a teenage son, when an accident left her paralyzed from the chest down. This committee of friends, strangers, volunteers, and others has devoted more than a year to providing round-the-clock care to help her with basic needs, prepare meals, clean the house, handle bill-paying, etc. In addition, the group has actively engaged in fundraising efforts to provide badly needed financing for a handicapped-accessible van and a special bed needed to prevent medical complications. More than $11,000 has been raised so far toward a goal of $50,000, a 501(c)(3) organization has been established and a website has been set up.
GOCA Worker of the Year: Roy Peck
Long-time GOCA Treasurer who has closely monitored our budgeting and expenses to ensure that we remain a solvent organization. In addition to writing the checks and keeping the books, he goes to great lengths to ensure that the Officers are aware of spending and revenue trends and of areas where fiscal prudence would be warranted. In addition, Roy has taken a special interest in ICC developments, and has closely monitored the “facts” and positions as presented by the State Highway Administration (SHA) and provided GOCA with a great deal of information not readily forthcoming from other sources, including the possibility (denied by SHA) of extending the first phase of the ICC to a point east of Georgia Avenue.
Olney Heritage Award: Harry Fletcher
Unassuming Olney businessman and resident whose business, Fletcher’s Amoco (now Fletcher’s BP), has been synonymous with the Olney community as it has grown from its rural crossroads roots to the busy modern satellite community it is today. Recognizing the importance of community and the importance of giving to the community, he devoted himself to ensuring that his business, now the longest continuously operating for-profit business in Olney, would be a good citizen and would provide both the quality service his customers expected and something extra to help the Olney community become the kind of first-rate community where people want to live and raise their families. Located virtually in the center of Olney, Harry ran a quality service operation, doing so well that he received recognition from the Olney/Rockville Chamber of Commerce. He also did much more than that-he supported local organizations, especially youth sports teams, and played a role in the founding of the Olney Boys and Girls Club. Over the years he operated the station-1959 to 1987-he contributed to a host of community causes and was a major factor in the development of Olney’s community identity and community spirit for which Olney is well known. Perhaps even more important was his influence on others-he gave many the opportunity to work and to develop a sound work ethic, and of great significance, he passed on his love and appreciation of community to his son and daughter-in-law, Bobby and Sandy Fletcher, who now run the business and continue to support the community in a variety of important ways. Without Harry Fletcher and his influence on others, Olney clearly would not be the community it is today.
GOCA President’s Award: Louis Willen
The President’s award is chosen solely by the President of GOCA and goes to Louis Wilen. A few years ago, Louis noticed several homes in his neighborhood were being rented out. A few quick keystrokes on the computer found that these homes were listed as owner occupied. Now most of us would probably not be curious enough to look in the first place, if we were, we may have become discouraged in trying to find the information, and finally, if we did get the information I don’t think we would have taken the next step as he did. Curious by what he found out, he investigated further. He found over 2700 rental properties that were classified as owner occupied and thus incorrectly receiving tax credits. Just with the ones Louis discovered, the county reclaimed $1 million in loss tax revenue for the county which resulted in over $10 million statewide. That has an impact. This led to legislation that changed the process of how a property is awarded the tax credit so non-qualifying properties do not slip through the cracks.
This is not the only thing Louis has found and shared with the appropriate people. In addition to emails about the property tax credit, he found information regarding housing trends related to affordable housing needs. He noticed dumping on a property hidden from Georgia Ave so he looked up the owner and discovered the same person owned several unlicensed and over crowded rental properties throughout our county. He would not only raise the issue about those illegal signs placed in the right of ways along our roads, he would provide the information as to who owned the company that was advertising and the name and phone number of the contact at the County to have the signs removed. He provided details about the planned replacement of the water tower located behind Sandy Spring Bank and share his thoughts about it. He even shared some pictures of some ugly and attractive water towers located throughout our nation.
If there is information out on the internet, Louis knows how to find it. This award goes to Louis today because not only does he have the knowledge to find this information, he then shares it with the right people.