Wires are honored for service to rivers, Wells Street

A couple synonymous with efforts to revive the city’s rivers and the Wells Street corridor has been awarded the 2017 Vandeveer Impact Award. The Allen County Commissioners made the presentation Friday to Dan and Judi Wire during a ceremony at Citizens Square, which also recognized five other persons who were nominated by the public for their work.

Judi Wire was nominated for her efforts to revitalize the Wells Street corridor. Owner of the Great Panes Glass Co., 1307 N. Wells, she has worked with the city to make the corridor a prime destination by getting other business owners involved in the planning stages of redesigning the streetscape and traffic flow. And she was instrumental in working with several departments to obtain almost $900,000 in federal stimulus funds to complete the new sewers and reconstruction of the corridor.

Dan Wire’s work to clean up and reuse the local rivers was cited in his nomination. He helped with the formation of the “Friends of the River” organization and has devoted his time to educating the public about the rivers’ potential. He has given river and walking tours and has worked with state environmental officials to make the rivers cleaner. He also recently became executive director of the Tri-State Watershed Alliance.

The Wires received a personal plaque, and their names will be included on a permanent plaque in the commissioners’ office.

Other nominees honored Friday were Aimee Bell, local nurse practitioner; Cheryl Mowan, St. Vincent DePaul volunteer; Fort Wayne Police Sgt. Mitchell McKinney; Dr. Rachel Rayburn, IPFW associate professor; and Becky Stellwagen of the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne.

The commissioners announced last September the award would be presented annually to county residents for service to the community outside of their regular profession in the example set by Linda and Jerry Vandeveer. Nominees were evaluated for their vision and action, selflessness and sacrifice, commitment and perseverance, and the impact their work has had on the community.

The Vandeveers have been active in a variety of community activities, including creation of a memorial to police and firefighters on North Wells Street and efforts to improve the Baker-Fairfield neighborhood. Linda Vandeveer died in 2016, leading to the establishment of the award.