BOS announce Fairfielder and Employee of the Year winners

The Fairfield Board of Selectmen unveiled this year’s Fairfielder and Employee of the Year winners.

The 2017 Employee of the Year was awarded to Mark Barnhart, Fairfield’s Director of Community and Economic Development. Tom Quinn and the late Bob Frigo were honored with the 2017 Fairfielder of the Year, making it a tie this year.

Chamber of Commerce President Beverly Balaz and former Economic Development Commission Chair Peter Penczer, also a Fairfielder of the Year, spoke about Barnhart always taking initiative in needed directions competently and unhesitatingly and having his finger on the pulse of the economic scene in Fairfield. Other nominators wrote how “Mr. Barnhart has worked tirelessly to improve the Town’s businesses, increase tourism and other economic advantages, and promote all things Fairfield,” and, “As a Fairfield resident, I am relieved to know Mark is working for all of us.”

Upon accepting his award from the Selectmen who each praised Barnhart for going above and beyond for the Town, a surprised Barnhart was joined by his wife and daughters. Other nominators for Barnhart along with his staff also attended the meeting.

An unsuspecting Tom Quinn, a long-time Fairfield resident who is best known as former Commander and current Senior Vice Commander of the Lt. Owen Fish American Legion Post #143 and Chair of the Holland Hill Building Committee and former Chair of the Riverfield Building Committee, also got to hear from some of the people in the Fairfield community who nominated him.

Nominator Chris DeWitt, a Board of Finance member, who also read a statement from another nominator, Tom Flynn, Board of Finance Chair, spoke of Quinn’s tireless service to the Town. Lt. Owen Fish Memorial Post 143 Commander Ron Drew and Riverfield Principal Brenda Anziano also praised Quinn for his work with Post 143 comparing him to the ‘energizer bunny’ since he is involved with all activities that deal with the Town when it comes to military events, including visiting almost every elementary school during and around Veteran’s Day.

As if Chair of the Riverfield Building Committee wasn’t enough, Quinn stepped up again to Chair the current Holland Hill School Building Committee. Not only was Riverfield’s renovation completed on time and on budget, but every parent and student have gotten to know Mr. Quinn who has truly become part of that school family and Holland Hill’s also.

The Selectmen also announced that Bob Frigo won the Fairfielder of the Year Award posthumously.

Frigo, who sadly passed away this past October, was a resident of Fairfield for over 30 years. He served as Chair and Treasurer of the Fairfield Public Library Board of Library Trustees and Co-Chair of the Fairfield Affordable Housing Committee where he helped draft the Model Affordability Plan and proposed Housing Trust Fund. Frigo was also an advocate for the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities and Human Services Commission, a founder of the At Home in Fairfield group, one of the founders of Fairfield Senior Advocates (FSA) and Chair of the Housing Committee of the FSA.

The following nominators spoke to Mr. Frigo’s selfless contributions to Fairfield: Kristen Tierney, former Chair of the Board of Library Trustees, Terry Giegengack, Director of Human and Social Services, Urb Leimkuhler and Jan Reber, close friends of Frigo, and Cindy Sammarco, Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee.

First Selectman Tetreau stated, “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than to honor these three hard working and compassionate individuals for their outstanding contributions to our Town. As Economic Development Director for the 14th largest town in the State, Mark goes above and beyond and does a remarkable job day in and day out to boost our local economy, help our businesses maintain a high retention rate, receive much needed grant monies, assist low-income and disabled homeowners and so much more. I am thankful that I can depend on Mark to deliver results and oversee one of our Town’s most important departments.”

First Selectman continued, “Mr. Quinn is a most beloved and highly respected citizen, and, the guy everyone calls when they have a question or need information related to our local Veterans. Always read to roll up his sleeves and help our town, especially our youth, Tom is the quintessential volunteer who truly enjoys giving back to his community. Frigo was best known for his gentle disposition and graciousness as well as his forward thinking vision to help make significant and long-lasting contributions to champion the needs of Fairfield’s seniors and libraries and advocate for more affordable housing.”

A plaque listing all of the winners, including previous winners, is hung in the lobby of Independence Hall on the Burr Homestead side.

To view a list of winners, award process and criteria, visit fairfieldct.org/bosawards.

Photos show First Selectman Mike Tetreau, Selectman Kevin Kiley and Selectman Chris Tymniak awarding Employee of the Year Mark Barnhart, awarding Fairfielder of the Year Tom Quinn, and congratulating Mark Frigo and Mark’s son who accepted the award on behalf of their dad and granddad, respectively. —Photos by Kendra Wingate

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