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Batavia couple named Citizens of the Year

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012 8:19 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – For Britta and Steve McKenna, giving back to Batavia is a team effort.

The couple on Monday were named the 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year. The Batavia Chamber of Commerce will honor the couple Jan. 26 at the chamber’s annual awards dinner.

“Anytime you get honored by your peers, it is a humbling experience,” Steve McKenna said.

The couple has been giving back to Batavia ever since moving to the city in 1991. Britta McKenna, former executive director of the Batavia MainStreet program, said she started getting involved because of the late Ted Schuster, who himself was named Batavia Citizen of the Year in 1988.

“He was a big mentor to me,” Britta McKenna said.

Schuster helped create the Batavia Downtown Task Force, which led to the formation of the Batavia Riverwalk Committee. Britta McKenna became heavily involved in the committee’s efforts to build a riverwalk.

She became a volunteer board member of the Batavia Riverwalk Committee and served as its marketing director. A couple of years later, Steve McKenna joined the riverwalk committee as a board member and treasurer.

In 2000, the pair also served as founding board members of the Friends of the Riverwalk. Britta McKenna also helped spearhead an effort in 2008 to add a permanent band shell to the Peg Bond Center on the Batavia Riverwalk.

“I think their support of each other is commendable,” Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said.

Schielke also complimented Steve McKenna on helping lead last year’s Bulldogs Unleashed fundraising project. Colorfully painted bulldog statues were on display in downtown Batavia as part of a fundraiser for the Batavia Public Library Foundation, the Batavia Parks Foundation and the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Batavia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roger Breisch said he is more than pleased with this year’s Citizen of the Year selection.

“Honoring Britta and Steve means so much to me personally,” Breisch said in a news release. “It would be impossible to count the number of times I have been witness to their kindness, generosity and creativity. I feel blessed to have been touched in their love of the enclave we call Batavia.”

The Batavia Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee of previous recipients of the award and is based on nominations from the community.

The award is given for extraordinary contributions to the community over the course of the recipient’s lifetime.

Batavia’s Citizen of the Year is honored at the annual awards dinner for the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. This year’s event will take place Jan. 26 at Lincoln Inn Banquets, 1345 S. Batavia Ave., in Batavia. For ticket information, visit www.bataviachamber.org or contact the chamber at 630-879-7134.

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