By Patrick Yost
On September 14 at 6:30 p.m. city of Madison employees have been givens something that, in recent memory, has never occurred.
They are getting a party.
Not an official sanctioned city event, not a recognition dinner for service or the annual Christmas lunch the city provides to its more than 75 employees.
For the first time, the community in general is coming together and throwing a night of recognition for employees for a simple reason.
Basically, say organizers, its the community’s chance to say to employees ‘thanks for job well done.”
Already, according to Walter Strauss, general manager, James Madison Inn, more than 25 local businesses have agreed to help throw the party. Strauss said at the urging of James Madison owner Everett Royal, he was tasked with organizing donations to help make the party a success.
“I’ve had to do very little arm twisting,” he said.
“We felt like city workers aren’t recognized and appreciated and we feel like they are doing excellent work,” Strauss said.
The event will be held at Variety Works, part of the venues available with the James Madison Conference Center off West Washington Street. Food vendors include Amici’s, Crowes BBQ, Ingles, Madison Chophouse Grille, Madison Tea Room and Gardens, Marco’s Pizza, Perk Avenue, Sysco Foods, Town 220, U.S. Foods and Ricardo’s.
Strauss said Lowes has donated a smoker.
“It’s typical of what kind of response we’re getting,” said Royal.
Other donors include Bank of Madison, Complete Accounting Solutions, Joe Cardwell, Le Petit Jardin, Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison Studios, Nu Art Printers, Robert Trulock, Rufus Hope, Salon at James Madison Inn, The Spa at James Madison Inn and Wal Mart.
City Manager David Nunn said more than 60 percent of the city’s employees and volunteer fire department have confirmed their attendance at the event. Former Madison Mayor Bruce Gilbert and other officials are schedule to briefly speak at the dinner.
Nunn said when he was first approached about the dinner he was reluctant. “My first reaction was ‘it’s not necessary, we are paid to do a job.’”
However, after he was told of the wide cross section of contributors to the party he acquiesced. “To me, it means a lot.”
Nunn said local businesses and residents are able to see daily the work employees perform from keeping the city tidy to creating an innovative planning and zoning vision.
“You can’t discount the value of that,” he said.
Royal said countless times he has observed city employees working on weekends or at odd hours to solve infrastructure problems, without complaint.
For Royal, the concept of recognizing Madison employees was “simple.”
“We felt like city workers aren’t recognized and appreciated sometimes and we feel like they do excellent work.”
Employees will have a chance at a host of door prizes and other gifts.
“We didn’t know what we could do to help, but we wanted to do something.”