WARRENSBURG-More than a quarter-century ago, a local woman had a dream for Warrensburg, a town steeped in historic architecture, but was at that time moving into the future with only a handful of people treasuring the past.
Teresa Whalen envisioned the town of Warrensburg as embracing values and the ambiance of a more gracious age, reflecting traditional values of community and warm bond between neighbors.
Then rather than merely talking about her aims, she worked tirelessly to accomplish them.
Since 1984, Whalen has been deeply involved in various projects in Warrensburg, concentrating on beautification, historic preservation, lifestyle sustainability and enriching the local fabric of life.
This year, for her vision, persistence and accomplishments, she's been named "Citizen of the Year" for 2011 by the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce.
Whalen will be honored at a congratulatory dinner set for June 17 at Grace's Restaurant in Warrensburg.
Starting her volunteer work in 1987 with the relatively new Warrensburgh Beautification Committee, Whalen launched various landscaping efforts around town.
In 1989, she founded Christmas in Warrensburgh, a weekend event early in December that includes a variety of holiday activities for all ages and musical performances - reflecting the activities of bygone years.
During the first few years, skeptics thought it would flounder. But despite various challenges, she worked year after year to make it not only survive, but flourish.
The event, now a treasured local tradition, draws hundreds annually to various venues and retail shops in town.
In 1998, she and other members of Warrensburg Beautification launched the Warrensburg Riverfront Farmers' Market, which has grown from one vendor selling vegetables off his tailgate to a weekly venue that includes 15 vendors of local produce, flowers, organic meats, baked goods crafts and specialty goods.
Skeptics also though this wouldn't survive its first few years. But it's enjoying its 14th season, after developing into a vibrant popular market with a gazebo, landscaping, rest room and hundreds of visitors weekly.
This is not all.
Whalen and other Warrensburgh Beautification stalwarts worked on developing seven town parks along the Schroon River, and obtained state grants for four of them.
Her work started with the development of the Cal Engle Park at the Warrensburg Health Center. Now a landscaped site with a memorial, a bench and trees, the park was once merely an asphalt lot.
Through the years, she also has brainstormed and conducted various beautification efforts at town facilities.
Whalen's most influential work, however, may have been in historic preservation.
She led a lengthy, successful effort to have areas of town designated as historic districts on the National Registers of Historic Places, and on the state register as well. In addition, she has actively campaigned to protect and preserve area historic resources in town, and to retain local quality of life in the face of encroaching development.
Her community involvement goes further. For 15 years, she's served as chairwoman of the Warrensburg cancer crusade.
Also, she's devoted many hours to the development of two townwide master plans.
Our congratulations to Teresa Whalen for all her accomplishments through the years, - for embracing history and enriching the fabric of life here, as well as having a vital role in creating new Warrensburg traditions that will be treasured for generations to come.