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Award honors those who get involved

January 01, 2007|by CANDICE BOSELY

For The Herald-Mail, naming a Person of the Year is a way to recognize someone who makes a positive contribution to the community.

Spurring others to act similarly would be an added bonus, Herald-Mail Publisher John League said.

"(The Person of the Year is a) story that is positive and highlights someone who is doing something essential in the community," League said. "Perhaps if highlighting that individual spurs somebody else's acting, it's worth a story."

What separates such people from everyone else is that they are willing to get out there and "do it," League said.

"All of our Persons of the Year have done it. It's making the effort," he said.

This year's Person of the Year is Lois Smith Harrison, 83, who has been involved for decades in a variety of organizations.

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She is the first woman to be named the newspaper's Person of the Year.

"It wasn't a conscious decision," League said of selecting a woman, "but it was probably overdue."

The newspaper received about 30 entries from the community. A group of Herald-Mail employees - many of whom were the company's top contributors to an annual United Way fundraiser - narrowed the group to five finalists. A committee of 12 community members and past Person of the Year honorees who live in the county selected Harrison.

Harrison's seven predecessors, from the earliest to the most recent, are: John Waltersdorf, Norman Shea, Mike Callas, Art Callaham, James G. Piern, John F. Barr and John R. Hershey Jr.

Each winner receives a crystal bowl and $1,000 to donate to the civic cause of his or her choice.

Harrison asked for her $1,000 to go to Aspiring to Serve, a building program of her church, Christ's Reformed Church. The church renovated a building on Franklin Street that offers space to nonprofits and is home to the REACH homeless shelter.

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