Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department Celebrates Outstanding Citizen Contribution


On Thursday, March 2, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, in cooperation with the Gainesville-Alachua County Cultural Affairs Board, the Gainesville-Alachua County Art in Public Places Trust, the Nature Centers Commission and the Public Recreation and Parks Board, will present the Arts Awards, the Public Art Award, the Star Awards and the Albert “Ray” Massey Citizen Volunteer Award. They will be presented at the Citizen Awards Reception for citizens who made outstanding efforts to promote cultural and arts activities, environmental awareness and recreational activities in 2016.

The Gainesville-Alachua County Cultural Affairs Board will award the Individual Arts Award, the Business Arts Award and the Lennie Kesl Lifetime Arts Award to honor significant and sustained contributions to the arts in our community.

The 2016 Individual Arts Award is being presented to Leela Corman and Tom Hart, who have a deep attachment to Gainesville. They have contributed enormously to the arts, not only as internationally-recognized professional artists, but also as educators who have brought hundreds to Gainesville to study cartooning at the Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) school. There is a special atmosphere for creativity and inspiration in Gainesville, and it is so much richer with Corman and Hart (and their daughter, Molly Rose) in our midst. True creative treasures, they make an incalculable contribution to the unique and myriad cultural facets of Gainesville.

The 2016 Business Arts Award is being awarded to Héctor Puig and Héctor Framing and Gallery. Puig is involved with artists and arts patrons throughout the region and beyond. This year, his cultural contributions were celebrated through Por Amor al Arte, a community-wide celebration of Latino culture. Originally from Utuado, Puerto Rico, Puig is a Gainesville resident who has one of the largest and most inclusive collections in the world of carved wood Santos from his native country. Puig has amassed an eclectic art collection over the past 24 years, including differing mediums and genres, in addition to the magnificent Santos. The collection truly reflects the rich cultural milieu of Gainesville’s university community; the works of influential art faculty members, students and regional artists are included with internationally-known artists, particularly of Latin American descent, and outsider artists.

The 2016 Lennie Kesl Lifetime Arts Award is being presented to Angela Terrell. Terrell has spent more than four decades making music and theatre a part of the lives and educations of tens of thousands of Alachua County school children. Her career has arched from Duval to Sidney Lanier, to 27 years at Littlewood, back to Duval, and now at the Caring and Sharing Learning Center. She also spent eight years at the University of Florida School of Music, teaching a new generation of music educators. Terrell is a native of Gainesville who has brought love, passion and skill to each of these assignments. Responsible for the music education of children throughout their six years in elementary school, Terrell has been called on to teach a wide variety of instruments, voice, music history and theory, production, and many other areas of expertise. She has been in leadership roles with the Doris Bardon Cultural Center, Star Children’s Theatre, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, Johnson Chapel, Gainesville Association for the Creative Arts, Alachua County Youth Orchestra, North Florida Gospel Music Announcers Guild, the Arts Association of Alachua County and the Friends of Music.

The Art in Public Places Trust Award is given to individuals who have made significant and sustained contributions to the enhancement of the greater environment through public art. The 2016 Public Art Award is being presented to Linda and Ken McGurn. Over several decades, and long before it became “cool,” Linda and Ken McGurn have played a critical role in the revitalization of downtown Gainesville through their leadership, vision and limitless passion for this community. They are also longtime supporters of the arts in general, and have forged partnerships with downtown businesses and other stakeholders to enhance both the aesthetics and vitality of the downtown area. In addition, by offering a wall on one of their properties for a 352walls/UF College of the Arts student project last spring, they helped jump start what has become an ongoing partnership between the city and UF, which promises to establish Gainesville as a national center for teaching and exchange in the field of urban art and neo muralism. The McGurns understand the importance of art and accessibility to art for all, and have spent the better part of their adult lives translating that understanding into tangible results. Gainesville and Alachua County are better places to live, work and visit thanks to the McGurns, and honoring them with this award only heightens the value and importance of the award itself.

The Nature Centers Commission presents the Star Awards to citizens who have made significant and beneficial contributions to Gainesville’s natural environment and conservation. The Nature Centers Commission will award a Star Volunteer Award, Star Good Neighbor Award and Star Green Business Award.

The 2016 Star Volunteer Award recipients are Jean Lansford and Carson Bell. Jean Lansford was the very first city volunteer at Sweetwater Wetlands Park, and she volunteered more than 180 hours in fiscal year 2016. Lansford helped with many and varied tasks, such as invasive plant removal, boardwalk maintenance, trail maintenance, trash removal, school group tours, answering visitor questions and recruiting and training additional volunteers. She enjoys sharing this amazing park with everyone she meets. Having Lansford at the park is like having an additional park ranger around!

Carson Bell is being recognized for her impact as member and treasurer of the board of Friends of Nature Parks. In fiscal year 2016, Bell was responsible for all of the treasurer responsibilities of three Native Plant Sales and dedicated an estimated 45 hours to those events alone. Bell made many fundamental changes that increased efficiency, productivity and exposure to the Native Plant Sales. The funds generated from the sales enabled educational grants to local elementary and middle schools to visit Morningside Nature Center and take part in the city’s nature programming. Bell believes in volunteering, and in helping others improve.

The 2016 Good Neighbor Award is being presented to Thomas Fasulo and John D. Jopling. Thomas Fasulo is a neighbor who lives close to San Felasco, a city nature park, and voluntarily removes invasive plants from the park on a regular basis. Fasulo also removed large patches of invasive plants from his yard and his neighbors’ yards. He continues to monitor for recurrence, and keeps city staff current on the status of the area. His efforts as a good neighbor have greatly contributed to halting the spread of invasive species into San Felasco Nature Park.

John Jopling is committed to raising environmental awareness and effecting meaningful change in the greater north Florida region. Jopling is a founding member and president of the Ichetucknee Alliance. He also serves on the executive committee of the Florida Springs Council, and is the newly elected vice-chair for the Florida Wildlife Federation. Jopling has passion for the Gainesville community and devotion toward protecting and restoring the city’s environmental treasures, as is evidence by the amount of time he volunteers toward these goals.

The 2016 Star Green Business Award recipients are Green Clean Homes and Searchlight Yoga. Green Clean Homes upholds strict business practices to ensure they are the most eco-friendly cleaning service, minimizing the impact to the city’s environment and natural resources. They are setting an example for others to use eco-friendly business practices. Searchlight Yoga, a locally-owned and operated business, considered the health of individuals and the impact on the environment when constructing and operating its studio. During construction the owners made a conscious decision to use green building materials such as bamboo flooring, cork flooring and low VOC paint. During operation, washable air filters and non-toxic, environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies are used for the health of their customers and to lessen the impact on Gainesville’s environment and the planet.

The Public Recreation and Parks Board presents the Albert “Ray” Massey Citizen Volunteer Awards to citizens who have worked to enhance or improve recreational activities in the community. The 2016 Albert “Ray” Massey Citizen Volunteer Award recipient is Shawn Harrigan. Harrigan has dedicated a majority of the past 33 years of his life to the establishment, preservation and growth of the sport of disc golf in both the City of Gainesville and the State of Florida. His stewardship of the disc golf course at Northside Park is highlighted by the countless hours of time and physical labor donated, as well as allocation of his personal finances for maintenance and improvements to the park. He has donated approximately 750-1,000 hours over the past calendar year, and is the ambassador of disc golf in the City of Gainesville.

The awards presentations will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the reading of the proclamations by Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe in the City Hall auditorium, which is located at 200 E. University Ave., followed by a reception in the Thomas Center’s Spanish Court, which is located at 302 NE Sixth Ave.