Ask any of the students who have graduated from Fayette High School who their favorite teachers were. Chances are very good that the name of Ms. Barb Bruggeman will be on that list, and more than likely at the top. The recently retire Ms. Bruggeman made mathematics a fun subject for her students, making her a popular figure both inside and outside the walls of the Fayette School. That popularity continued on the evening of July 24, as she was named Fayette Citizen of the Year by the Fayette Chamber of Commerce at their annual banquet.
Fayette Mayor opened the ceremonies by recalling a line from the musical, ‘Oklahoma’, and comparing it to life in Fayette. “Oh, what a beautiful morning,” she said, noting everything from the crops in the fields, to Harrison Lake State Park. She noted the fact that Fayette sits at the intersection of coast-to-coast and a border-to-border highways, and sits upon the Michindoh Aquifer. With a proven track record of meeting and exceeding challenges, Mayor Marlatt suggested that those who would speak of “Fayette’s situation,” might want to consider that ‘condition’ as something that other communities might well envy.
After an exceptional catered meal, Chamber members and guests listened as Mr. Mike Figgins introduced the Fayette Citizen of the Year, Ms. Bruggeman. Mr. Figgins said that math was not his area of expertise, which coming from a banking executive, drew laughter. He went on to say that has he had to use, “What do you call it? That thing where this side and that side has got to equal? I’ve only had to use that once in my career in the banking world.” When the laughter began to decrescendo, he introduced Ms. Bruggeman, who then came forward.
Mr. Figgins described the four-decade teaching career of Ms. Bruggeman, also noting her community and civic work as the organist at Our Lady of Mercy Church, a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the Fayette Area Foundation, and a member of the Fayette Lions Club. Upon receiving the award, Ms. Bruggeman thanked the Chamber for the recognition, saying, “I am very thankful that I ended up in Fayette, Ohio for the last 40 years.”
Status of the Village updates were presented by various Chamber members, beginning with Dee Ferguson with service recognitions. Dee Lawrence updated and recognized progress in the agricultural domain, followed by Anita Van Zile who spoke on the state of industry in Fayette. Tom Spiess presented a glowing report of the local businesses that comprise ‘Main Street’, including an update on the progress of the soon to be announced Vision Statement for the Village of Fayette.
Mr. Spiess remained at the podium to introduce the keynote speaker for the evening, the Honorable Mayor of Jackson, Michigan, Mr. Jason Smith. Mr. Smith opened by saying, “I come from media. I have been acting, writing, directing and producing professionally since I was fifteen years old. I had my entire speech on my teleprompter. Guess whose battery died on the way here!”
Mayor Smith was asked to address the Chamber about the things that Jackson has in common with Fayette. He struggled with the concept for a while, then discovered three points around which his speech was built. Although the teleprompter failed him, his memory did not, and the three points that he expounded upon, communication, collaboration and community involvement, are true hallmarks of Fayette.
The evening was closed out with comments from Mr. Jerry Van Zile, who spoke of the determination of the Village. “I look around the room, and I see all the determination of the people of Fayette. I respect you all, because you just keep plugging away…to make this a great town.”
With that, the banquet drew to a close. No one was quick to leave, though. Conversations were struck up in every corner of the room, conversations that revisited the three points made by Mayor Smith…communication, collaboration and community involvement.