Gaithersburg Announces Citizenship Awards (Photos)
Gaithersburg’s Mayor and Council announced the winners of the 2014 Distinguished Citizen, Distinguished Friend and Outstanding Organization Awards on June 8 at the 32nd annual Celebrate Gaithersburg in Olde Towne street festival.
Gail Norris was presented with the 2014 Distinguished Citizen Award by Mayor Sidney Katz. Ms. Norris began her involvement with the city of Gaithersburg as a member of the Communications Committee about a decade ago, and since then has lent her considerable talents in the field of public relations, journalism, marketing and communication to many city initiatives. She has served as Public Relations Co-Chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival since its inception, producing the event’s e-newsletter and press releases, securing media coverage, and coordinating on-site public relations efforts for the past five years.
Norris is co-founder of the East Deer Park Neighborhood Watch, and serves as Treasurer-Elect of the Rosemont Elementary School PTA. The mother of active twins, Norris also serves as the newsletter designer for the Montgomery County Parents of Multiples organization, and volunteers her time with her daughter’s Irish dance group, the Duffy Irish Dance Foundation.
Although unable to attend the award ceremony, Book Festival founder and City Council Member Jud Ashman provided the following remarks, “Starting in year one, Gail has been an essential part of the success and growth of the Gaithersburg Book Festival. Her fellow Committee members and I are grateful for the chance to work side-by-side with Gail as she invests such professionalism and passion to our endeavor.”
The Distinguished Friend Award is presented to individuals who make significant contributions to Gaithersburg, but who do not reside within the city limits. Council Member Ryan Spiegel presented the awards to District 17 Senator Jennie Forehand and District 39 Delegate Kirill Reznik.
Senator Jennie Forehand is retiring from public service after having served the constituents of District 17 for 36 years. She was praised for her efforts to help the city of Gaithersburg secure funding for renovations to its Senior Center, Water Park, Miniature Golf Course, and Casey Community Center, and for championing the protection of Program Open Space funding, which has allowed the city to provide enhanced recreational amenities and opportunities.
Delegate Reznik was especially recognized for his advocacy of the construction of the Watkins Mill Interchange on I-270. It was noted that he led the initiative to have the interchange fully funded through the 2013 Transportation Act, with the project receiving $125 million. The interchange will link the east and west sides of Watkins Mill Road, both of which are burgeoning with new development.
The Outstanding Organization Award was presented by Council Member Cathy Drzyzgula to the Linkages to Learning programs that operate in Gaithersburg area schools. The award was accepted by Linkages Resource Team Members Monica Martin with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, June Zillich with Montgomery County Public Schools, and Gladys Gutierrez and Larry Epp with Family Services, Inc.
Linkages to Learning is a collaborative program that provides supports to at-risk students and their families, helping them adjust to and improve performance in school, at home and in the community. The Linkages programs not only address student achievement, they put particular emphasis on working with parents, offering financial wellness classes, parenting groups, nutrition classes and other supports focused on empowerment and the promotion of parent involvement in a child’s success. In the Gaithersburg community the programs operate at Gaithersburg, Rosemont, Summit Hall and Washington Grove Elementary Schools, and at Forest Oak and Gaithersburg Middle Schools.