To say that Walk-N-Wander Warsaw has greatly impacted our community this summer would be a gross understatement.
Almost immediately after the Seward Johnson sculptures were unveiled, the attraction was obvious. Locals and visitors alike have streamed into our downtown, brochure in hand, not moving on to the next sculpture until they have posed for a picture or selfie with their favorite character(s). Our merchants have been happy with the traffic. The exhibit has attracted local families, schoolchildren and employee groups. Visitors from surrounding counties and states have visited, nudged by a very extensive advertising campaign. Many folks have told me they have never seen anything like it. Keep passing the brochures to friends and relatives … our newfound bronze friends will only be here until the end of September.
Also leaving at the end of this month, is the individual responsible for the success of this project. Michelle Bormet will retire after 23 years as administrative assistant to three mayors. Michelle began serving under Mayor Jeff Plank in August 1991. She then worked for Mayor Ernie Wiggins from 1998 through 2011. I have been fortunate to work with Michelle for a little over 2-1/2 years of my first term.
The idea for Walk-N-Wander was the result of Michelle’s vision to contribute to the improvement of our downtown. Committee organization and fundraising started almost a year in advance of the arrival of the sculptures. She also directed a stellar advertising campaign that included a professional brochure and a spot in the Chicago Tribune travel section
Serving the public is very rewarding. It can also be very demanding. I am very proud that all of our employees understand the importance of working for our citizens. Michelle has set the standard for courteous service and responsiveness. In addition, she has also worked on projects that focus on the greater good of the community.
Embracing technology, she created the cities first website in 1999 and was involved in mapping and identifying over 14,000 individual burial plots in Oakwood Cemetery with the assistance of GIS technology. She coordinated the selection of the city logo in 2003. In 2004, she co-chaired the Warsaw Sesquicentennial. She has worked to support WPD Victims Services activities and has served on the Beaman Home, CCAC and CVB Boards.
But Walk-N-Wander Warsaw and a book she wrote a few years ago will define her contribution to our community. Both of these projects were outside of the scope of her job, but showed her unwavering commitment to the City of Warsaw.
As author of “A History of the City of Warsaw,” Michelle compiled a comprehensive pictorial narrative of our city that will be an authoritative reference for many years to come. It took hundreds of hours to research, compile, write, lay-out, edit and publish this reader-friendly local history book. Through selfless perseverance and commitment to accuracy, her book will benefit the community for many years to come.
If you have a chance to thank Michelle for her service to the City of Warsaw, please do. I am always very appreciative of a job well done when any of our hardworking employees retires after years of honorable service. In this case, much to her chagrin, I’m happy to do it right here in the newspaper. Thanks, Michelle!