BELLOWS FALLS -- Decades of public service will soon be commemorated when Michael "Obie" Obuchowski becomes the newest recipient of the O'Connor Award.
Named after Timothy J. O'Connor Jr., a Brattleboro resident and former Speaker of the House and gubernatorial candidate, the award was started by the Brattleboro Town Democratic Committee a few years ago as a way to recognize area individuals that work hard in Montpelier to improve the quality of life in this corner of Vermont. Obuchowski will be given the award during a ceremony scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion in Bellows Falls on Saturday.
Gov. Peter Shumlin was last year's recipient.
James Valente, chairman of the democratic committee, said the award helps pay tribute to the people that have a positive impact on Brattleboro and its surrounding towns. It acts as a lifetime achievement award of sorts.
Valente said he plans to hand the award to Obuchowski but that privilege might go to someone else.
Obuchowski, a Speaker of the House for six years, was appointed the Commissioner of Buildings and General Services in 2010. This ended a 39-year career in the House during which he served as chairman of numerous subcommittees.
"It's a real honor to be associated with the name of Tim O'Connor. He was the role model that my desire to be Speaker was founded upon," he said, adding that he was told two or three weeks ago he was this year's recipient. "I
"I have had such a joy (working in the Legislature) and the doing the job I'm doing now," he continued.
Obuchowski, a Bellows Falls native, served under four or five Speakers and said O'Connor was the most fair, honest and communicative.
"He had a great gift for bringing people together," he said. "Those attributes were something I tried to emulate."
O'Connor, who left the House of Representatives in 1980, said Obuchowski is a dedicated statesman who spent his days in Bellows Falls visiting with his constituents when he was back in the area.
"He was very influential as a leader," O'Connor said, adding that he was elected Speaker of the House with Obuchowski's help. "He's just a down-to-earth, genuine individual. He doesn't take the applause -- he just does his job day in and day out."
Some light food will be served and a $10 donation is suggested, with all proceeds benefiting the democratic committee.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.