Jacqueline "Jac" Walker, a founder of the "Franconia Lunch Bunch" and the inspiration behind Franconia Museum's books of stories, brought attendees at the 51st Lee District Association of Civic Organizations to their feet when she was awarded the Les Dorson Lee District Citizenship Award Tuesday night at the Springfield Hilton.
Standing before a packed ballroom of Lee District and Fairfax County residents and officials, Walker, 83, a life-long resident of Franconia thanked the crowd. "I have a lot of memories and a lot of friends in Franconia," she said. "It has always been my home. I have lived in the same house since 1929."
Walker was one of three recipients of this year's Les Dorson awards presented annually for outstanding public service and citizenship in memory of the association's former vice chairman who served as an inspiration "for active citizen involvement." Each year during the Annual Holiday Banquet two awards are presented for public service and one for citizenship.
"Building communities does not just happen by luck," said Chairman Gerald Connolly, of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, during his Introduction of the award ceremony. "It happens by dedicated people. Les Dorson was one of those people. To achieve good and effective government it is necessary to put together a citizen network that's involved in every aspect of government."
IN NAMING WALKER for the 2006 Citizenship Award, Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), under whose office the banquet is organized and managed, noted Walker's contributions not only to the community at large but also to the museum. The "Lunch Bunch" is a monthly gathering of long-time residents who share stories and remembrances of Franconia.
These recollections have been captured in three volumes put out by the museum over the last several years. "She has helped gather both oral and written recollections from long-time residents that eventually became the three books," according to her recognition as an award recipient. Each volume also incorporates a vast array of photographs.
Currently, Walkier is helping to create volume four of "Franconia Remembers."
Receiving the Dorson Distinguished Public Service Leadership Award was Grace Starbird, director, Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. Working for the needs of Fairfax County seniors since 1987, Starbird's "dedication, hard work, and creative ideas have led to recognition of Fairfax County as a national leader in planning for the needs of an aging population. Grace is committed to ensuring we (Fairfax County) have an aging-friendly community," according to the evening's program.
The Dorson Distinguished Public Service Professional Award was garnered by Roy Biedler, senior zoning inspector, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning for his past 15 years. Serving both Lee and Mount Vernon districts, Biedler is responsible for investigating violations of the zoning and noise ordinances as well as enforcing proffers and development conditions.
PRIOR TO THE AWARDS Kauffman introduced Dan Tangerlini, former Metro general manager and incoming city administrator for the District of Columbia. As the former chairman of Metro's Board of Directors, Kauffman said of Tangerlini, "He is extremely knowledgeable not only about the numbers but also overall operations. And, he also has a good sense of humor."
In assessing both his prior position with Metro and his new role as the District's administrator, Tangerlini told the audience, "There are three things that determine success and/or failure in any operation — people, power and parts."
He noted that of those three people are the most important. That applies to both customers and employees. People also embody the power part of the equation, according to Tangerlini.
"The suburbs can't see the District as the hole in the doughnut and the District can't view the suburbs as irrelevant," Tangerlini said. He emphasized the need for a regional partnership that encompasses the District, Maryland and Virginia on issues that impact each.
Following his speech, Tangerlini answered questions from the audience on a wide range of subjects from Metro operations to the government priorities and operating style of D.C.'s incoming mayor, Adrian Fenty.
Referring to a signature element of the new mayor's style, using a "bull pen" approach to the office configuration for himself and his top staff, Tangerlini said, "I'm now in an office about the size of my previous Metro office. The difference is there are 30 others there with me."
But, he acknowledged it makes for very dynamic communications and is something he has come to appreciate. "I think if I had the opportunity to go back to a single office I would turn it down. It would be too lonely," he said.
Serving as master of ceremonies for the event was Lee District Planning Commissioner Rodney Lusk. Joe Johnson, chairman, Lee District Association, gave an update on various planning activities throughout Lee District. The Rev. Edward Young, Laurel Grove Baptist Church offered the invocation.