Volunteer champions are awarded
Posted on 03/23/2023
Mayor Brian Turnbull Dear Northvillians and friends, 

Earlier this month the Northville Chamber of Commerce hosted the first comprehensive Northville Community Awards Dinner to a sellout crowd in Downtown Northville. The evening starting with dinner at Genitti’s and then transitioned to the awards presentation at the Marquis Theatre, where participants walked across the street via the red carpet. It was Northville’s version of the Academy Awards. All in attendance enjoyed some great food, fellowship and community spirit.

We are so fortunate to have the volunteers we do – that’s truly why Northville can accomplish so much … by working together! In the city itself, more than 6% of our citizens share their valuable time and talent on our 27 boards and commissions along with our task forces. We will take a look at some of this year’s honorees.

Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Banquet 

Each year since 1976, the Northville Chamber of Commerce celebrates the dedication and commitment of community members that give their time and talent to make Northville a special place to live, work and play. One citizen is recognized with the Citizen of the Year award. In 2014, the award was designated the John Genitti Citizen of the Year Award in honor of local resident and businessman John Genitti. Previously it was named after our first Mayor of the City, Claude Ely.

Other yearly volunteer awards were presented for: the library, the Chamber of Commerce, the City and the Township. Here are this year’s Award Winners:

Library Volunteer of the Year – Linda Bastien
In 2017, Linda Bastien, along with her husband, Will, took over the management of the Friends of the Northville District Library Used Book Donation Program. On any given week, the people of Northville donate 700 - 1,000 used books to the library. Over 50 volunteers work on this endeavor and Linda coordinates the entire operation. The Used Book program annually provides 50% of the total funding raised by the Friends of the Library.

The money given by Friends of the Northville District Library supports many initiatives, including its annual Battle of the Books – a middle school reading tournament, which had 115 competitors this year.

Northville Township Volunteer of Year Award - Jeffrey Oles
All trails in Northville Township led to Jeff Oles. He’s been a township resident since 2005 and a passionate mountain biker. He’s created a lot of the township paths by working on them, planning them, or recommending routes. Jeff is an invaluable resource; he makes our community a better place.

When Northville Township prepared a Master Plan in 2010 for Legacy Park, (332 acres of the former state psychiatric hospital property), mountain bike trails weren’t part of the plan. That quickly changed thanks to Jeff and his extensive network. He was invited to help put in trails on the eastern end of the park. Jeff is truly a champion for Northville Township.

City Volunteer of the Year - Nancy Darga
Nancy Darga has faithfully served the city of Northville and Wayne County in many capacities as an employee, elected official, and volunteer over the years, resulting in positive, meaningful changes in our community. She previously worked 27 years for Wayne County Road Commission and Wayne County Parks, giving her a vast and deep knowledge of local infrastructure and environmental concerns.

She is a founding member of the Friends of the River Rouge and Motor City National Heritage Area, and a long-time supporter of Mill Race Village. Nancy was a Northville City Council member for 12 years and she served more than 20 years with the Parks and Recreation Department. Nancy now serves as chair of the River Restoration Task Force, a team dedicated to restoring the health of Northville’s waterways, daylighting the Rouge River and establishing walking trails, along with overseeing the planning of the future Farmers’ Market and the Ford Field initiative.

Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year - Sher Watkins
For more than 10 years, Sher ran the Northville Farmers Market. Additionally, she has been actively involved with the Farmers Market Task Force, ensuring the success of the next generation of this award-winning market.

When asked by the Chambers executive director to assist in kicking off last year’s Farmers Market, Sher selflessly flew from Mackinac Island to assist in the successful launch of the market. Sher has used her experience with the Michigan Farmers’ Market Association to the benefit of all in our community. Her involvement has helped make the Northville Farmers’ Market an award-winning gathering and the largest Thursday market in the state.

Citizen of the Year - Sue Hillebrand
Sue served as the longest elected township clerk (26 years) during a time of great growth in the community. She conducted 30 successful elections, earned the Master Municipal Clerk certification, and served on various state and county clerks’ boards.

Sue has been a member of the Township Board of Trustees, the Beautification Commission, and the Parks and Recreation Commission and she continued, even after her retirement in 2019, to serve as a resource and mentor to township staff, generously giving of her time and talents for the betterment of the entire Northville community.

It is because of these traits, and all she has done for the community over the past three decades, that Sue Hillebrand was named Citizen of the Year.

Northvillians, I challenge you to get involved, just as those we recognized at the Awards Banquet got involved many years ago. Whether big or small, your contributions will always make a difference for the city of Northville.

Mark your calendars 
April 8, The Northville Cars and Coffee Car Show – 8 to 10 a.m., Old Village School, next to 212 W. Cady St. kicks off another year in cooperation with Alexander’s Custom Clothiers and supported by Roush Industries. 

Keep that Northville Sharing Faith!
Brian Turnbull
Mayor – Northville
[email protected] / 248.505.6849

Mayor Turnbull and award winners