Just as Christie Lane Industries employees prepared to honor incoming President Barack Obama, with American flags and red, white and blue balloons, they honored one of their own: Mark Straka, appropriately enough, for his dedication to his work.
Straka, 30, received the third annual Mary Hornsby Most Valuable Worker of the Year Award, named after Christie Lane Industries’ production manager of more than 30 years.
“I thought someone else would get it,” said the obviously modest Straka, who attended Shawnee School and EHOVE. “I got up and I smiled.”
“He’s an all-around good guy,” said current production manager Len Meurer. “That’s why he got this award; he deserves it.”
Each year, the award is presented to a devoted worker of Christie Lane Industries, run by the Huron County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Christie Lane Industries is a nonprofit business whose mission is to increase the earnings and status of its workers with developmental disabilities. Clients work within Christie Lane and in an outside job.
In Straka’s case, he has worked at Woodlawn Cemetery during the summer months since 2003. Straka trims weeds around the gravestones.
“He’s a great worker,” said Lisa Cossin, community employment coordinator of Christie Lane Industries, who supervises Straka at Woodlawn. “He does anything that you ask him to do.”
Said Straka: “I like to be busy.”
And busy he often is. He removes snow from around Christie Lane, he’s on the recycling and shredding crew, he pulls weeds from Christie Lane School’s playground and helps with yard work.
Straka, who also plays on the Christie Lane Bears’ basketball team, has been at Christie Lane Industries for 10 years.
“Dang that’s long,” Straka said when informed of the fact.
“When you catch up to me, then it’s long,” Christie Lane Superintendent Dee Zeffiro-Krenisky replied to Straka. She has been at Christie Lane since 1995.
This article was reprinted with permission from the Norwalk Reflector