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Mayor Names Citizen of the Year

WESTFIELD ­ Mayor Richard Sullivan honored Cecile Byram and Robert Plasse as Citizens of the Year for 2004 during a surprise ceremony last Friday.

This is the ninth year that the city has chosen two people, a male and a female, for the award.

Sullivan said that he gives out the award each year to honor not only those who are chosen, but all of the people in the community who do so much volunteer work in the city and make Westfield "a better place."

He said that he tries to have a theme for the award each year, and this year the two individuals were honored for all of the work that they have done and continue to do to make the downtown area more active.

He added that he usually gives the award just after Christmas, but due to conflicting schedules, the ceremony took place last week.

Sullivan said he collects nominations in an informal way and then chooses the recipients.

He said he honors volunteers because they give their time and talent more than anything else.

He said that he does not just give out the award to people who call themselves philanthropists ­ he gives them to people who give a lot of their time to the city.

Plasse was chosen as the recipient for all of the work that he does with different events in the community.

He is heavily involved with planning the Westfield on Weekends (WOW) events, which includes Dickens Days. He is also on the committee for Dickens of a Day House Tour.

Plasse is also a corporator for the Westfield Athenaeum.

He explained that he became involved with volunteer work in the community after he attended a City Council Meeting in which he expressed his interest in preserving a historic house on Broad Street, which has since been removed.

After that, he was called to be on a committee to help with historic preservation.

"You start with one thing and it leads to another," he said.

Plasse said he was "totally surprised" with the award but he said that the work involved in planning the events and seeing the participation in the events is a "great satisfaction."

He added that it is nice to be recognized.

Plasse has lived in Westfield for four years. He explained that when a town provides you with what you need as a person, you need to give back.

"I am nurtured by my community work," he said. "It is my payment."

He said that he found his place in Westfield and that he is more comfortable in the community than he could ever have dreamed.

"I could not have landed in a better place. I want to grow old here," he said, adding with a laugh, "I am old, I forgot."

When Sullivan presented Plasse with the award, he said Plasse came in the city like "a breath of fresh air, although some may say it was a monsoon."

Sullivan also honored Byram for all of her work to help improve the city. Byram was honored for her efforts to bring performing arts downtown.

She walked into the mayor's office with her notebook last week, expecting to attend a meeting about a new volunteer project, only to find that she was being honored instead.

Byram said that she is first and foremost a mother, which she said she does more than anything else.

However, over the past couple of years, she has put some of her energy into the Downtown Performing Arts.

She said that she thought she would put some of her skills into stimulating activities downtown and in order to get people excited about that area.

She added that she wanted to remind people that "[downtown Westfield] is a wonderful place to be," with all of its shops and restaurants.

Byram also said that she wanted to utilize the City Green.

She said that she wants to create the best community as a place to raise her children. She has lived in Westfield for 4.5 years.

She said she found an opportunity to use her talents and she jumped on it.