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The City of Gaithersburg Presents: The Annual Citizenship Awards

Gaithersburg city leaders announced the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Citizen, Distinguished Friend, and Outstanding Organization Awards at the recent Celebrate! Gaithersburg festival.

Mayor Sidney Katz, Gail Norris and Council Members Ryan Spiegel, Henry Marraffa and Cathy Drzyzgula. Credit: City of Gaithersburg
Mayor Sidney Katz, Gail Norris and Council Members Ryan Spiegel, Henry Marraffa and Cathy Drzyzgula. Credit: City of Gaithersburg
Gaithersburg has recognized outstanding individuals and organizations since 1988. At Sunday’s Celebrate! Gaithersburg in Olde Towne street festival, Mayor Sidney Katz and the City Council presented the 2014 award winners for Distinguished Citizen, Distinguished Friend and Outstanding Organization.

Mayor Katz presented the award for Distinguished Citizen to Gail Norris, co-founder of the East Deer Park Neighborhood Watch, treasurer-elect of the Rosemont Elementary School PTA, newsletter designer for Montgomery County Parents of Multiples organization -- she is the mother of twins -- volunteer with the Duffy Irish Dance Foundation and public relations co-chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Norris has lent her talents in the field of public relations, journalism, marketing and communication to the city of Gaithersburg for about a decade, beginning with her involvement as a member of the Communications Committee of the City of Gaithersburg.

“Starting in year one, Gail has been an essential part of the success and growth of the Gaithersburg Book Festival,” said festival founder and City Council member Jud Ashman. “Her fellow committee members and I are grateful for the chance to work side-by-side with Gail as she invests such professionalism and passion to our endeavor.”

The Distinguished Friend Award went to two individuals -- District 17 Senator Jennie Forehand and District 39 Delegate Kirill Reznik -- and represents individuals who do not reside within the Gaithersburg limits but have made significant contributions to the city.

Forehand is retiring from public service after serving District 17 for 36 years. She was honored for helping Gaithersburg secure money for renovations to the Senior Center, Water Park, Miniature Golf Course, and Casey Community Center. Forehand also protected the Program Open Space funding, allowing Gaithersburg to provide enhanced recreational amenities and opportunities.

Reznic was recognized for his advocacy of the construction of the Watkins Mill interchange on Interstate 270 that will link the east and west sides of Watkins Mill Road. He led the initiative to have the project fully funded through the 2013 Transportation Act -- $125 million went toward the project.

Council member Cathy Drzyzgula presented the Outstanding Organization Award to Linkages to Learning programs that operate in Gaithersburg area schools. Linkage Resource Team members Monica Martin (Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services), June Zillich (Montgomery County Public Schools) and Gladys Gutierrez and Larry Epp (Family Services, Inc.) accepted the award.

The Linkages to Learning program provides support for at-risk students and families, focusing not only on students’ achievements, but working alongside parents as well -- financial wellness classes, parenting groups, nutrition classes, etc. For Gaithersburg, the programs are run at Rosemont, Summit Hall and Washington Grove Elementary Schools and Forest Oak and Gaithersburg Middle Schools.

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