Rita Warren honored as Westport Person of the Year

WESTPORT For years, Rita Warren worked behind the scenes to make sure the Westport Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner went off smoothly. This year, she was the center of attention. The former co-owner of the Westport Hotel was named the Westport Chamber of Commerce 2007 Person the the year. The award was presented at the Nov. 5 annual meeting. Dee Carroll, who spent many years working with Warren on chamber business, made the presentation. "It's a wonderful honor and community recognition for all she's contributed to Westport's well-being. She's really been a backbone for community spirit and accomplishing things," said Carroll. Warren and her husband, Ralph, purchased the Westport Hotel in 1984. She quickly became involved in the community, serving as the first vice president of the chamber of commerce, a member of the board of directors, and as secretary. Warren was responsible for collecting and re-directing chamber mail, responding to questions and inquiries about Westport, sending out brochures, answering and logging phone calls. Warren solely assembled the chamber-member information and saw the process through to completion. Over the years, she helped revise bylaws, served and the chamber's official auditor, worked on the annual budget committee. Warren also initiated the December Westport Progressive Dinner tradition. Along with her work on the chamber and hotel, she taught religious education at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church and served as a public representative on the Committee on Special Education at Westport Central School. An active supported of the local troop of Boy Scouts of America, Warren received her mother's eagle pins twice, when both her sons, Ross and Ryan, achieved Eagle Scout Ranks. In 2003, Warren became a job coach for the supportive employment program at Mountain Lake Services. Her dedication, reliability and trustworthiness makes a difference in the lives of disabled individuals by enabling them to work successfully in competitive employment settings. Warren said she was both honored and humbled to receive the recognition. "Over the past 23 years, the mother in me wanted to nurture Westport," Warren said. "Westport needs a lot more nurturing." Along with presenting Warren the Person of the Year Award, Chamber officials discussed issues with members in attendance. Chamber President George King said the chamber board was planning on doing outreach to local businesses to figure out how they could help strengthen the chamber's focus on helping the town's business. A round table is currently being planned. Chamber board member Wayne Deswert used the meeting to announce plans to create a recognition program for Westport businesses and residences that take extra effort at maintaining their property. He explained the program would encourage people to take pride in the town.

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