Above all, the people who call northeast Indiana home are what make the region special. On this Thanksgiving Day, we’re grateful for their contributions in building a better community. Here are just a few:
Lakeside Park gardeners: On weekends from late spring through early fall, it’s a never-ending wedding celebration at the historic park, largely because of the stunning display of roses surrounding the picturesque pergola, sunken gardens and reflecting pools. Drive by any weekday and you’re likely to see the parks staff carefully tending the roses, which have been recognized as a National Rose Garden since 1928. Gardeners at Foster Park are equally dedicated.
David Ross: Former city engineer was the consummate public servant. He had worked for the city of Huntington and the Fort Wayne wastewater treatment plant and retired this year after two decades leading transportation planning. His capstone project? The stunning new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge, already a popular city landmark.
D’Angelo Samuel: Fort Wayne rapper known as “Nyzzy Nyce” wins acclaim with “My City,” a hip-hop video tribute to Fort Wayne that quickly went viral and instilled pride in many young residents.
Glynn Hines: Few people are more effective and passionate advocates of the city’s southeast side than the 1st District City Councilman.
Burmese community: An invitation to democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leads to her visit to Memorial Coliseum in September, with an inspiring message not just for expatriates, but for the entire community. The visit also marked an encouraging collaboration among ethnic groups within the Burmese community.
Ted Ellis, Suzanne Handshoe: The mayors of Bluffton and Kendallville, respectively, are among those in some of the smaller northeast Indiana cities who demonstrate that small-town leaders can have not only professionalism but big standards and goals.
Mac Parker: The local attorney has helped the community grow and prosper in a number of ways with his involvement in countless organizations, projects and boards.
Komets, TinCaps, fans: The K’s and the Coliseum are a deep-seated tradition, while the TinCaps and Parkview Field are the new wave. All are popular and continue to thrive because of loyal fans who appreciate both supporting the teams and enjoying the venues.
Wendy Stein: One of the founders of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, the advertising exec most recently helped the community by demonstrating common sense and independence as a member of the Allen County Ethics Commission.
Tera Klutz, Stacey O’Day, Sue Orth: Allen County’s auditor, assessor and treasurer have intricate knowledge of Indiana’s complex system of property-tax-financed government, and each has gone beyond her job description to emphasize fairness, public accessibility and good stewardship of public money.
Larry Thomas Jr.: The jack of all trades for the Downtown Improvement District is a well-known presence downtown.
Sheila Hudson: Judges created and oversee Allen County’s groundbreaking alternative sentencing programs, but Hudson – who runs the Community Corrections Department – makes it work with initiative, ideas, a flair for finding grant money and high standards.
Ephraim Smiley: The educator and master gardener advocates for the environment, teaches gardening skills and helps provide food through urban gardening projects.
Harrison Square developers: The retail/office/housing project adjacent to Parkview Field took a long and uncertain route, but faith in its promise has resulted in another great addition for downtown Fort Wayne.
Rachel Tobin-Smith: The work she and her agency, SCAN, do in fighting child abuse and neglect often goes unnoticed until tragedy strikes and we’re reminded that some children needlessly live in danger.
Win Moses: Few area leaders exhibit such a vast knowledge of government and politics, from the history of the city’s mayors to the intricacies of the General Assembly.
Utility crews: When “super derecho” became a new part of our vocabulary after the violent June 29 windstorm, linesmen worked for days in stifling heat to restore power. The working conditions were almost as trying as the city’s 2008 ice storm, and the results of their work were every bit as appreciated.
Leigh Rowan, Lora Schnurr: The farmers’ market vendors surveyed the local scene and decided Fort Wayne was ready for an indoor, year-round market. Open the first Saturday of each month at Parkview Field’s Lincoln Financial event center, the market already is drawing huge crowds.
Volunteers: At hospitals, events, social service agencies, public broadcasting, soup kitchens and countless other places, residents make a difference every day by selflessly giving their time.