Fort Wayne resident Dan Wire described receiving the 2017 Linda & Jerry Vandeveer Impact Award as a humbling experience.
Wire and his wife, Judi, were recognized Friday by Allen County Commissioners for years of community service work in the county. Judi Wire was nominated for her work to revitalize the Wells Street Corridor, working with the city of Fort Wayne and area businesses to turn the area into a prime destination. She helped get business owners involved in streetscape and traffic flow redesign along the corridor. She also worked with several city departments to obtain nearly $900,000 in stimulus funds for new sewers and sewer reconstruction.
Dan Wire was nominated because of his work to clean up and reuse local rivers. He helped create the Friends of the River organization and has spent time educating the public about the rivers' potential. He recently became executive director of the Tri-State Watershed Alliance.
But despite their award, Dan Wire stressed that community efforts extend beyond he and his wife.
“Even though you select a couple people, and Judi and I have done some things, it's really a whole army of volunteers that make these things happen,” he said. “It's not like we're out there on our own. It's many people stepping up.”
Perseverance and collaborative effort between citizens and government is key, Dan Wire said.
“It really takes that effort from both entities,” he said. “Government can do some things that citizens can't, but on the other hand, citizens can do things the government can't. You have to have involved citizens.”
County Commissioner Nelson Peters said the Wires embody the spirit of the award.
“When you take what they've done collectively, it's just incredible,” Peters said. “We didn't go out initially anticipating that we were going to pick another couple for the award, but it just turned out that way, and I think Jerry Vandeveer himself couldn't be happier. The service of Judi and Dan really is a great honor to what Linda and Jerry have been able to do in this community.”
Five other nominees were also recognized Friday. Those nominees included Aimee Bell, local nurse practitioner; Cheryl Mowan, St. Vincent DePaul volunteer; Fort Wayne Police Sgt. Mitchell McKinney; Rachel Rayburn, IPFW associate professor; and Debby Stellwagen with the Boys & Girls Club of Fort Wayne.
“When you look at the things that are happening in this community and the people that are really helping out who are sort of the unsung heroes, it's really cool to bring them to the forefront and get the opportunity to say, 'Hey, thanks for everything you're doing to make this a better county,'” Peters said.