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Mayor awarded #036;5K grant for skills

Instead of a plaque, as a winner of the American Hometown Leadership Award, Cleary will net a $5,000 community economic development grant for the city he serves.

Thursday, August 19, 1999

Instead of a plaque, as a winner of the American Hometown Leadership Award, Cleary will net a $5,000 community economic development grant for the city he serves.

"I was notified by Sam’s Club in Burlington earlier this year that they were going to nominate me for this Sam Walton Foundation Award, and I was very humbled by it," Cleary said. "When someone tells you they are going to nominate you for an award, of course you are honored, but I know that it isn’t just me that is making the positive changes in this city happen."

Instead, Cleary attributes the qualifications that made him eligible to receive, and ultimately win, the award to a large network of hardworking individuals within the city.

"I have a stupendous support staff and so many other people that have worked hard, and there was a lot of work that went into this city before I even got to the mayor’s job," Cleary said. "It’s taken a lot of hard work, long hours, hopes and visions to realize these grants and achievements, but we’ve been able to put all of our resources together and make progress in the city."

For those who nominated Cleary, there was never a question of who would best fit the bill and bring home one of the top prizes, Sam’s Club Receiving Verifier Joe Holtzapfel said.

"I am also on the Spirit Committee at Sam’s Club, which is for community involvement and community service, and we received information about this award with our packet this year," Holtzapfel said. "This is a new award that Wal-Mart just began this year."

After reviewing the qualifications and prerequisites for the award, Holtzapfel said Cleary’s name immediately came to mind.

"The winner has to be from a community of less than 25,000 people, so because it had to be someone in a smaller town, of course I thought about Bob Cleary and all the work he had done to get this Empowerment Zone grant for the area," Holtzapfel said. "And I thought he just might be the person to win it for us, so we got the application together."

The strict requirements of the independent consulting firm in Washington D.C. hired by the corporation to judge the applicants called for the applications to be verified by a third party, Holtzapfel explained.

"We got the application together, but it had to be signed by another elected official," he said. "Judge David McCown signed the application and we sent it to Washington, D.C. Later we heard the good news."

The $5,000 in grant money does not have a designated purpose at this time, but Cleary said all avenues are being examined.

"When we received word that we were getting this grant, ideas from several staff members came in that included assisting the matching funds for the riverfront grant, combining with Empowerment Zone money and possibly adding recreation equipment to city parks," Cleary said. "We could look at using it any number of ways, but we want to make sure that whatever we do with the funds, it is to the best interest of the citizens of Ironton, because that is who this award is really for."