St. Marys Journal Argus
If you work hard enough, and are dedicated enough, it’s often the case that things eventually go as planned. But there can sometimes be surprises — and sometimes they can be pleasant surprises.
The grassroots community group working to have improvements done at the Water Street tennis courts expected the project to move one step closer to reality Tuesday, June 24, as St. Marys Town Council officially approved a tendered cost of just under $165,000 for repaving, painting and putting up new exterior fences. After months of hard work raising close to $50,000 within the community, convincing Council to commit $30,000 of Town funds, and crossing all the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s for what turned into a successful application for a $70,000 Trillium Foundation grant, Tuesday night's approval was the part that went as planned for fundraising campaign leader Andrea Macko.
Then came the surprise for the evening . . . and it certainly was a surprise. Macko is this year’s Town of St. Marys Citizen of the Year.
In past years, the annual winner of the Citizen of the Year Award has been announced ahead of time, so the community-minded individual and their friends and family can be invited to the Town Hall Council Chambers to be presented with the award. This year, in a twist, when it came time to make the presentation, the Town had a ready excuse — the approval of the tennis courts project tender — to have Macko at Council Chambers. So the committee in charge of looking over the Citizen of the Year nominations and selecting a winner decided that, this year, they’d make it a surprise award announcement.
Macko was unaware of the plans for the evening. Speaking to the Journal Argus earlier this week, she noted she expected no complications with the final approval for the tennis courts project. Fraser Asphalt Paving off Stratford had submitted the low bid, the project leaders had decided to remove a planned replacement of the tennis courts’ windscreen as a means of keeping costs down, and Council had already had a preliminary look at the final numbers during their Committee of the Whole session last week.
The only update was that the fundraising committee, a part of the St. Marys Social Tennis Club, is continuing to seek donations, and is now only about $2,000 short of its final goal.
The Citizen of the Year is chosen from nominations sent in to a committee that, in most years, consists of representatives from the Town of St. Marys Volunteer Coordinator, Town Council, and sponsoring organization the St. Marys Journal Argus. This year, however, the Journal Argus was asked not to participate in the selection due to a potential conflict of interest related to one of the nominees. Macko is a current columnist with the Journal Argus, and previously worked for the newspaper as a reporter/photographer.
The Citizen of the Year program recognizes contributions in a range of ways to the St. Marys and area community. Macko, who with her husband Andrew operates the Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home, has been active in the community ever since moving to the town to begin her journalism career. But the extra time she now has available, since moving away from full-time work at the newspaper, means those contributions have been particularly notable over the past four years.
Aside from taking a leadership role with the St. Marys Social Tennis Club, Macko is also a member of the St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation, with a particular focus on the promotion and organization of fundraising efforts and media events.
Recipients of the Citizen of the Year Award receive recognition from the Town of St. Marys, as well as a range of gifts donated by participating sponsors in the program.