Award honors Bowie’s finest -- Gazette.Net







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There’s a high bar to get into Bowie’s Hall of Honor. It’s been seven years since the last person was inducted.

The Hall of Honor, which is a posthumous recognition, has been around since 1991. In those 23 years, 18 residents or former residents have made it in.

The first award was given in 1994.

Officials say it’s the most prestigious award the city gives out, so the criteria are tough. Nominees must have “made both a major and lasting contribution to the City of Bowie,” lived in Bowie at the time of their contribution and been deceased for a year as of the filing deadline.

Officials said the award is meant to recognize all of an individual’s contributions, not just particular moments, which is why a nominee must be deceased.

“I think it is intended to be that way so that it doesn’t lessen and cheapen the stature of the award,” said Dennis Brady, an at-large city councilman for 20 years. “It is more a recognition of the life of the person.”

The most recent selection, in 2007, was John Ainsworth, who is considered the father and champion of Bowie’s Ice Arena, according to the Hall of Honor’s records.

Awardees have a ceremony in their honor and a plaque is placed in the City Hall lobby, said Matt Corley, Bowie’s special events coordinator.

Corley said he receives the nominations for the Hall of Honor. The application deadline is in early February. Applications are sent to the Community Outreach Committee, which views the applications and asks questions. It makes a recommendation to the council, which gives final approval.

Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson said people who have a plaque on that wall have helped turn the city “from a development into a community.”

“Everybody that is up there now has been an incredible contributor to the success of the city,” Robinson said. “We try to extend our appreciation to those people and their families. It is hard to get in there.”

The Community Outreach Committee tries to ensure the award is given only to people who have made “lasting” and “major” contributions to the city, said Dale Grant, committee chairman.

Grant said the committee doesn’t receive many applications, which might be a testament to how tough the criteria are. When a nominee is turned down, that person usually isn’t nominated again, he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, it is the most prestigious award,” Grant said. “We feel obligated ... that the person actually meets the criteria.”

Applications are due this year on Feb. 7.

Just because people think nominees meet the criteria doesn’t mean they will be approved, Grant said. The committee has recommended against some nominations.

I think we feel we’ve been given this opportunity, therefore we take it very seriously,” Grant said.