Westmont, Illinois – Date Issued: April 29, 2022
On April 28, 2022, Westmont resident Jenny Babyar was named the 2021 Westmont Citizen of the Year at the annual Westmont Community Awards Dinner held at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center. The Citizen of the Year Award was one of many highlights during the event, which had more than 140 people in attendance.
“Thank you for this award, I’m truly honored,” said Jenny Babyar. “It makes me happy to give back to my community.” Babyar has been very involved in the community for many years with numerous events and projects including Make-A-Wish, the Red, White & BBQ Festival, Taste of Westmont, Cruisin’ Nights, and more. Most recently, Jenny founded the Creative Arts Network and has been coordinating art shows and art classes in Westmont throughout the year.
The Citizen of the Year award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary volunteerism in the community. Tracey Valerio Spotts, who is a member of the Westmont Rotary Club and Chamber, as well as Wally Van Buren, who has served as a Village of Westmont Planning & Zoning Commissioners for several decades, were also nominated and recognized for their service to the community.
Following are some of the highlights and awards presented at the Westmont Community Awards Banquet:
The 2021 Dick Busse Business of the Year Award was presented to the TW Group in recognition of their high level of community interaction and support. Other nominees for the award included Alia Rose Salon and Westmont Special Events Corporation - NFP.
The 2021 Roger Westman President’s Award was presented by Chamber President to Jessica Garrett, owner of Dynamic Perception Dance, for her outstanding service to the Chamber and the Westmont Community.
The 2021 Educator of the Year Award was presented to Brian Sherry from the Westmont Junior High School.
The 2021 Westmont Public Servant of the Year Award was presented to Public Works Administrative Assistant Rose Gross. Several Village of Westmont employees were recognized for outstanding public service within their department including Spencer Parker from Village Administration; Jaime Hofmann from Community Development; Dave Zalesiak from the Westmont Fire Department; and Tom Kozielski from the Westmont Police Department.
The Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Award was presented by Elaine Carmichael and Linda Sobotka to Emergency Management Agency volunteer Greg Pantke in recognition of his many years of community service and volunteerism.
The Westmont Special Events Corporation 2021 Jim Wright Making Memories Award was presented by Executive Director Kristina Kaniauskaite and 2020 Citizen of the Year Maggie South to Larry Boyle, who has worked quietly behind the scenes for numerous events including Cruisin' Nights and Taste of Westmont.
The Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Brad Alexander and previous Citizen of the Year Hank Anzalone presented three awards: the Knight of the Year Award to Ray Wachowski, the KCs Family of the Year Award was presented to Greg and Linda Sobotka, and the “In Service to One, In Service to All” Award was presented to Julie Stone.
American Legion Commander Frank Trout of Post No. 338 and Huw Winston presented their first-ever Americanism Award to Marcel Levesque. Levesque is a 97-year old World War II veteran who served in the Navy. Levesque served aboard the U.S.S. Bunker Hill, which sustained two kamikaze attacks. Marcel returned from the war, got married, moved to Westmont, and created the Bank of Westmont, which served the community for several decades. Levesque received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Mayor Ron Gunter presented a Special Recognition Award to Wally Van Buren, who has served the Village of Westmont for over 4 decades on various boards and commissions. Van Buren has also been a vital part of the Downers Grove Sanitary District, serving as President for the past 7 years.
A joint presentation between the Westmont Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Westmont for the Making a Difference Community Service Award was presented to Mike Frigo by Mayor Ron Gunter, Westmont Chamber President Alison Clemens, and Westmont Chamber Executive Director Larry Forssberg. Frigo has served as the Mayslake Village Executive Director for 30 years.
The Westmont Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau recognized the following Chamber board members for outstanding service, Steve Bauer, Phillip’s Flowers & Gifts, and Kevin Carey, Superintendent, Community Unit School District 201.
The Westmont Community Improvement Award recognizes individual business property owners and businesses that have improved the appearance of their property. The 2021 Community Improvement Awards were presented to:
- Alia Rose Salon - 22 N. Cass Avenue
- Artistic Pursuit - 226 N. Cass Avenue
- Clemens Enterprises, Inc. - 41 N. Cass Avenue
- Curaleaf - 11 E. Ogden Avenue
- Taurasi Restaurant, 14 N. Cass Avenue
The 2021 Westmont Dining Reader’s Choice Awards is a program co-sponsored by the Westmont Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau and Shaw Media. The public was able to vote for their favorite restaurants, dining experiences and food during the time period of February 17-27, 2022. There were 30 categories. The 2021 winners were:
- Best Asian Cuisine – Katy’s Dumpling House
- Best Bakery – The Sweet & Savory Spot
- Best Banquet Space – Zazzo’s Pizza & Catering
- Best BBQ – Uncle Bub’s BBQ
- Best Breakfast – Citrus Diner
- Best Brewery – Whiskey Hill
- Best Burger – DJ’s Sport Bar and Grill
- Best Catering – Citrus Diner
- Best Coffee Shop – Brewed Awakening
- Best Drinking Establishment – DJ’s Sports Bar and Grill
- Best Family Friendly Restaurant – Citrus Diner
- Best Fast Casual – Uncle Bub’s BBQ & Catering
- Best Fast Food – Potbelly Sandwich Works
- Best Fine Dining – Dolce’s Restaurant
- Best Full Service Restaurant & Bar – Zazzo’s Pizza & Catering
- Best Holiday Brunch – Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center
- Best Ice Cream – Dairy Queen
- Best Indian Cuisine Restaurant - Big Suchir Restaurant
- Best Italian Cuisine – Zazzo’s Pizza & Catering
- Best for Live Entertainment – J. Fleming’s Absolutely Delicious
- Best Lunch – Citrus Diner
- Best Mediterranean – Taste Greek Street Food
- Best Mexican Restaurant – Las Palmas Restaurant
- Best for Outdoor Dining – J. Fleming’s Absolutely Delicious
- Best Pizza – Zazzo’s Pizza & Catering
- Best Salad – Citrus Diner
- Best Sandwich – Citrus Diner
- Best Seafood – Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
- Best Sushi – Sushi House
- Best Video Gaming – DJ’s Sports Bar & Grill
Pictures from the event are published in the Village Photo Gallery and a video of the awards dinner can be accessed via the Village of Westmont YouTube Channel. For more information regarding the Westmont Community Awards, please contact the Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-960-5553.