It was an evening of appreciation on Tuesday, March 9 when the current Wellington Village Council invited in three of their earliest predecessors for some long-awaited “honoring.”
The purpose was the recognition of inaugural Wellington Village Council members Kathy Foster, Dr. Carmine Priore and Tom Wenham — all of whom at one point served as mayor — for their service to the village in celebration of Wellington’s 25th anniversary as an incorporated municipality.
All three were also recently added to the Wellington Founder’s Plaque in recognition of their service.
“I remember that incorporation was no small feat,” Councilman Michael Drahos said. “Now, 25 years later, it’s so obvious that it was the right decision. It’s really cool having the three of you here. What we tried to do was honor each of you separately on individual nights, and then tonight we wanted to have all of you together.”
Foster reminded everyone that Michael McDonough and Paul Adams, both now deceased, also served on that inaugural council, which met for the first time on March 28, 1996.
“They worked just as diligently as Carmine, Tom and I did in those first years, and I’d like to have a moment of silence to thank them as they’re no longer with us today,” she said.
Priore told the council that he appreciated their acknowledgment. “I’m honored to have been in on this whole municipality creation,” he said. “I like to celebrate our beginning and so many wonderful memories that are here.”
Wenham noted that the council had been presented with its favorable annual audit that evening. “I am glad we got you in such good shape and thank you for keeping it that way,” he said, to smiles all around. “It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve.”
Mayor Anne Gerwig told the three elder statesmen that they remain examples to those who have followed.
“It really reminds me that we are standing on your shoulders,” she said. “The way you laid this out, we really would have to try to mess it up.”
Councilman John McGovern recalled his early years growing up in Wellington.
“I have the great honor of growing up in this town when it was much smaller, and I remember knowing you as a middle school student and a high school student knowing that each of the three of you transformed Wellington,” he said.
Drahos agreed. “This was the first time since COVID-19 started I’ve taken my mask off [at a meeting], but I was socially distanced, and I wanted my face in that picture [of you three], because it’s like our Mount Rushmore,” he said. “I constantly keep in mind your legacy, and I try to lead by your example.”
Vice Mayor Tanya Siskind is proud of how far Wellington has come.
“I didn’t grow up here, but when I got here, I was amazed this was such a great community,” she said. “It really does show today everything that Wellington does stand for, and Ms. Foster, since yesterday was International Women’s Day, I’m so proud to be here and be able thank you personally.”
Councilman Michael Napoleone added that he is proud of his work to continue to make Wellington a great place to live, work and play. “I learned Wellington’s history… when my family and I found the village that you created,” he said.
Gerwig concluded by noting that even when the inaugural council didn’t agree, they knew how to work together.
“[Even when] you didn’t necessarily agree, you agreed in building the best community you could,” she said. “You guys and your families know how this is a job on top of your day job and how to pack two lives together.”