The Village of Chittenango Board of Trustees honored several local community members last month at its organizational meeting Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.

COVID-19 Heroes

In an effort to recognize those citizens who stepped forth and helped their fellow citizens in Chittenango, the mayor and trustees passed a series of honorary resolutions acknowledging the actions of several individuals during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Diane Horning was recognized and honored for coming forward to assist her fellow residents during the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak after “Matilda’s Law” limited the activities of vulnerable populations in the state, including the regular volunteers at the Sullivan Food Cupboard.

Tina McNulty was recognized and honored for unselfishly and without complaint coming forward to assist fellow residents by coordinating the volunteers who signed up through the Chittenango assistance group and mobilizing those volunteers to get desperately needed food to those in need at home, delivering many of the boxes herself, as well as volunteering many hours at the Food Cupboard.

Sue Reaume was recognized and honored for her unwavering commitment to her community by coordinating the food distribution at the Fyler Community Church Food Pantry to the vulnerable and quarantined and for encouraging others to give.

Trustee Colleen Baldwin was recognized and honored for her diligent work to protect residents through her work on the village’s mailer during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic; building up the Community assistance group; volunteering at the food pantry and encouraging others to step up and help while keeping Chittenangoans up-to-date during the early months of the pandemic.

Patty Damon, Natalie Stansbury and Aida Byrne  were all recognized and honored for all their work to organize safe celebrations of the 2020 Chittenango High School seniors after the COVID-19 pandemic left seniors and families without the traditional ceremonies and celebrations.

Acknowledging that more citizens than can be identified stepped and selflessly served their fellow citizens, the mayor and trustees passed an all-encompassing resolution honoring everyone not previously identified. So many citizens selflessly served their fellow citizens by making masks, donating  money and food to local food pantries, volunteering at the food pantries when “Matilda’s Law” prevented older volunteers from doing so, delivering food and helping quarantined residents through the “Chittenango Assistance” network, checking on neighbors in need and by supporting local businesses. The resolution for all citizens has been hung at the village offices to honor all those who gave but not specifically named.

The best of Chittenango is the result of the volunteers who step up and give. The COVID-19 pandemic is just another example of how it is the people who give that makes Chittenango a great place to live.

Key to the Heart of the Village Award

Mayor Elizabeth Bough Martin and village trustees were also honored to create and bestow a new award to longtime resident Ralph “Bud” Penner during the organizational meeting.

Penner and his wife, Mary Lou, came to Chittenango in1958 when Penner was hired as principal at Chittenango Station School and the elementary supervisor. That one hire began a lifetime of service to the Chittenango School District and the community of Chittenango.

Penner served on nearly every board in Chittenango during his time in Chittenango. His lifetime of giving started when he joined the Head Start board; at the time of the ceremony, he was serving on the Sullivan Community Library board and Oakwood Cemetery board. The timing of the award ceremony accommodated Penner’s attending the Sullivan Library board meeting. As he said at the award ceremony, “I began volunteering at Head Start and I am leaving with the Cemetery.”

For the last six decades, the Penners supported nearly every civic group and every program that served the Chittenango community and surrounding area; they have been the recipients of many prestigious volunteer and service awards. They received lifetime recognition awards from WCNY, WAER, the town of Sullivan, Sullivan Chamber of Commerce, Community Chest, Sullivan Free Library, Salvation Army, Head Start and the Madison County ‘Citizens of the Year’ Award.

The success of any community is built upon the efforts of individuals committed to serving their community with the desire to make it a better place to live, work and play. Those of us who live in Chittenango are lucky enough to live in a community that continues to be served by an all-volunteer fire department, two non-profit cemeteries, a number of non-profit early childhood education programs, volunteer-run sports programs and two all-volunteer built museums with an international reputation.

Community volunteers create and organize our community events that bring us together to celebrate as well as mourn. Without such volunteers, we would not be able to enjoy our annual tree lighting or come together for the 9/11 remembrance ceremony or dance among cool vintage cars during the concerts in Dr. West Park.

Mary Lou Penner’s death during the COVID-19 pandemic and Bud Penner’s subsequent move from the community signals to us all the passing of the torch to a new generation here in Chittenango.

In creating the Key to the Heart of the Village award, it is the hope of the Chittenango Board of Trustees to not only honor those who have given a lifetime of service to the Chittenango Community but also to highlight these lives in a way that inspires future generations to continue the work of past generations.

It will only be through the dedicated service of our community volunteers that Chittenango will continue to be a great community in which to live, raise children, work, grow old and enjoy life.

Organizational meeting

Over the course of the remainder of the organizational meeting, trustees approved a number of appointments and updated policies. Village Administrator Paul Gregory, Village Clerk Deb Thayer and Deputy Clerk Pauline Vagg were all appointed.

The annual organizational meeting is typically held April 1 each year; however, the organizational meeting could not be held until after the Sept. 15 this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s executive orders.

By martha

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