Editor of the Reformer:

The Windham County Democratic Committee was pleased to host the first ever Obie Awards Dinner in Bellows Falls on Saturday, December 12th. We were proud to present awards to Sharry Manning (Windham County Democrat of the Year), Ann Braden (Activist of the Year), Rep. Tristan Toleno (Legislator of the Year), and, of course, a Lifetime Achievement Award to Commissioner Michael "Obie" Obuchowski. It was a remarkable evening to celebrate our shared Democratic values and work, as well as an opportunity to celebrate Obie, who has given so much to our community.

The event would not have been possible without the help of some remarkable people. First, we must thank Tristan Toleno and his crew at Entera Catering for a delicious meal. Thanks also to Rich Boucher and the Pierce Lawton American Legion Post 37 for being gracious, helpful, and accommodating hosts. To our volunteers for the event, including Louise Luring, Nancy Olson, Timm Harris, Rep. Matt Trieber, James Valente, Lachlan Francis, and so many others who helped to make the idea for this event a reality. Thank you to our award presenters, Rep. Mike Mrowicki, Rep. Carolyn Partridge, and Senator Becca Balint. Thanks for the kind words and honors from Congressman Peter Welch; John Patrick Tracy on behalf of Senator Patrick Leahy's office; Thomas MacPhee, Ann DiBernardo, and the Rockingham Selectboard; and Senator Jeanette White on behalf of Governor Peter Shumlin.


And finally, many thanks for the financial support given by gracious event hosts and sponsors, as well as the more than 80 attendees. Event Hosts: Matt Dunne for Governor and Faisal Gill. Event Sponsors: Vermont Democratic Party; Costello, Valente, & Gentry; Sue Minter for Governor; Kesha Ram for Lieutenant Governor; Brandon Riker for Lieutenant Governor; Dave Zuckerman for Lieutenant Governor; TJ Donovan for Attorney General; State Treasurer Beth Pearce; Becca Balint & Elizabeth Wohl; Lamont Barnett & Pamela Parant; Brandon Batham; Peter, Andrew, Liv, & Erik Galbraith; Louise F. Luring; Randy & Bev Major; Jill Michaels; and Tim and Martha O'Connor.

Finally, I must publicly thank Commissioner Obuchowski for his service to our state, county, and the community in Bellows Falls. All of Obie's qualities are the markings of what public service looks like: hard work, determination, compassion, fairness, and humility. On Saturday evening, so many folks at all levels of public service shared the many ways that Obie has been a mentor, supporter, and friend--and how his career has shaped Vermont and its government. Obie echoed the words of Speaker Shap Smith, saying, "At the end of the day, my wife and my children are what's most important to me." Many thanks to Obie and his wife, Clare Buckley, and their children Jack and Nora, for the joy they shared with us that evening.

It is our hope that this event, a fundraiser for the WCDC, will serve as an ongoing tradition in the years to come, and we hope to continue to honor strong, local Democratic leaders for the work they do on behalf of our region and state. With your continued support and hard work, we will continue to elect Democrats who will fight for middle and working class Vermonters, and give a voice to the voiceless.

Brandon Batham, Windham County Democratic Committee, Dec. 14