Help on big projects earns Williams Citizen of the Years honor

Jack Williams

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Jack Williams

Lending his professional expertise in his retirement, Jack Williams put his mark on two major projects for local community efforts to serve people here.

Although moving out of the area now, he has been a major contributor to work on the Oxford Community Arts Center and planning for construction for a new food pantry building which will serve those in need of food assistance.

In her nomination letter for Williams, the Executive Director of the Oxford Community Arts Center, Caroline Croswell, called him a “highly suitable individual” for the Citizen of the Years honor.

“Jack has been a valuable member of the Oxford Community Arts Center family since 2005. He has been on the Board of Trustees and president of the board twice as well as chair of the Facilities & Restoration Committee. … He has generously shared his expertise as an architect and project manager on all of our restoration projects totaling nearly four million dollars. Without Jack’s expertise, hard work and dedication, OCAC could not have accomplished as much as we have over the years,” Croswell wrote in her letter to the selection committee.

She described him as “knowledgeable, hard-working, organized and committed.”

She also noted his involvement with Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services, formerly the Oxford Community Choice Pantry, writing, “He has played a similar role with the pantry as he has with OCAC, working on the development of a blueprint and design for the site of a new location in Merry Day Park.”

That project involved not restoration, but design of a whole new building, planned for that city-owned park adjacent to the Miami Mobile Home Park and near the Family Resource Center.

Croswell quoted TOPSS Executive Director Ann Fuehrer as saying of Williams: “He repeatedly gave us reality checks on our planning and brought the resources and contacts he had to the project. When we encountered things that were new to him, he sought out information and was willing to take on new challenges. I am thrilled with the plan and Norman Butt, of The Architectural Group developed and Jack’s commitment to that process made that happen.”

Fuehrer said recently the plans created for the pantry project are complete and the fundraising continues but will not be sufficient for the originally-planned move in of June of this year. They are steadily receiving donations to the building fund, she said.

“The city extended the lease and we will begin ground breaking by January 2023. Until then, we will be co-locating with the Family Resource Center for two or three years,” she said, adding she has talked with City Council member Jason Bracken about possible ideas for sustainability. “The plan is all set. We have left the plan with Norm Butt and Greg Koch, of Bayer Becker. The project is on paper ready to go. Our other hope is to co-locate with the Family Resource Center but we will see how that will work with our customer base, where we overlap. We hope it will be a partnership as we move forward.”

All of that was made possible by the contributions of Williams after joining the pantry board of directors in the summer of 2018.

“Jack played a really important role for us. He acted as project manager, as he did for Miami University for two decades and in his work with OCAC,” Fuehrer said. “I am thrilled he is being recognized for his experience in work with federal grants and Miami University. He came on to the board at a crucial time.”

Croswell’s nomination letter closed by commenting on the honoree’s humility about his contributions and the work which makes him deserving.

“I feel certain that Jack has committed himself to the community in other ways as well. However, he is such a humble person that you will never hear about it from him. It has been a privilege to know this kind, dedicated and generous man. I feel confident you will agree that Jack Williams is a most deserving candidate for this award.”

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