Bay Village selects citizen, project of the year
The Bay Village Community Council, an assembly of representatives from many of the city’s civic groups and nonprofit organizations, has selected this year’s Citizen and Project of the Year. Individuals and projects that merit recognition are nominated by Bay Village residents. A selection committee of Community Council members thoroughly discusses each nominee to determine those most deserving of the honor. At the Jan. 14 meeting the committee selected the 2016 Citizen of the Year, Jeffrey Hartz, and the Project of the Year, the new BAYarts ceramics studio.
Citizen of the Year
Jeffrey Hartz is a long-serving member of the Bay Village Auxiliary Police Department. Since joining the all-volunteer squad in 1987, Jeff has become known as the “go-to guy” to get the job done, always ready to offer support to first responders in safety situations ranging from downed trees and power lines to car accidents to – his most memorable assignment – security detail for former President George W. Bush’s motorcade during a campaign stop in Westlake.
The selection committee noted that Jeff is a lifelong resident of Bay Village, a 1984 BHS graduate and has volunteered countless hours to the safety and security of the city for nearly 30 years with the auxiliary unit. His dedication allowed him to move up the ranks from officer to sergeant and now lieutenant.
As lieutenant and executive officer of the BVAPD, Jeff spends as many as 30 hours per week handling administrative duties, including scheduling and manpower distribution of the 24-person auxiliary crew, and coordinating activities for the myriad organizations that host races and other events in the city.
Jeff learned the value of community service from his parents, John and Dolores, who were honored in 1998 as Citizens of the Year. John was a 36-year member of the auxiliary department, retiring as a captain in 2008, and Dolores was active in St. Raphael Church for many years. Jeff may also have inherited a good measure of humility, as evidenced by his shock in receiving the Citizen of the Year honor.
“I was completely blown away,” Jeff said about receiving the congratulatory phone call from Community Council co-president Darin Snyder. “I asked her if it was a joke. I never would have imagined something like this would happen.”
Jeff immediately credited the hard work and dedication of his fellow BVAPD officers. “I am humbled by the honor and feel it should recognize the auxiliary unit as a whole, because without them I never would have been considered. We have 24 members who all work as hard as I do. Nobody does this for the accolades; we want to serve our community. I am very pleased to bring acknowledgement to these dedicated people.”
In addition to his work for the auxiliary, Jeff also serves as a jailer in the Bay Village Police Department facility and owns an online storefront, zombie-works.com, selling horror-themed items and his own handcrafted sculptures and plaques.
Project of the Year
The Project of the Year award is designed to highlight an endeavor that merits community-wide recognition. The selection for 2016 is the new ceramics studio on the BAYarts campus. Formally named the Karen Ryel Ceramic Arts & Education Center after a former student and supporter of the organization, the studio opened in spring 2015. It was built on the south side of Huntington House which for the past 40 years had hosted ceramics classes in its basement.
The new studio features 2,000 square feet of dedicated ceramic space, four kilns, a hand-building table and glazing table, and eight throwing wheels. An attention to accessibility allows students of all ages and abilities to utilize the facility.
The Community Council selection committee was impressed by BAYarts’ commitment to improving their campus and enhancing the cultural opportunities in Bay Village. It was agreed that the new studio furthers the city’s strong reputation as a regional leader in the arts. It is a facility that both serves Bay residents and also attracts visitors from surrounding communities.
A reception to honor Lieutenant Jeff Hartz and the ceramics studio will be held on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2-4 p.m., in the Fuller House on the BAYarts campus. The community is invited to this celebration.