Son earns award named for father

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MANCHESTER — This year, Seth Bongartz will be on the receiving end of an award he has handed out for many years.

At its annual dinner meeting on Wednesday, the Bennington County Regional Commission is recognizing him with a community service award named after his late father, Ferdinand "Nundy" Bongartz.

The award, first presented in 1998, honors residents of Bennington County who demonstrate ideals, beliefs and excellence in community planning and service. Past recipients have come from such fields as local governance, affordable housing development, conservation, transportation planning and small-business development.

Bongartz, who remembers presenting the award nine of the past 10 years, said he never expected to one day receive it.

"I had gotten used to being the person who presented the award that, no, it hadn't occurred to me that I would be one of them," he said.

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The county regional commission's director, Jim Sullivan, said Seth epitomizes the recipient of the Bongartz Award, having "tirelessly served the town, region and state" in numerous roles:

Bongartz, 64, serves as chairman of Burr and Burton Academy's board of trustees, leads the Manchester Community Land Trust and since 2002 has been president of Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home. He is stepping down as Hildene president at the end of the year.

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He had also been involved in Northshire economic development initiatives, as well as served in the Vermont House of Representatives and Senate in the '80s.

His father, Nundy Bongartz, who died in 1997, was a founding member of the Bennington County Regional Commission. He'd also held various civic and municipal positions "to improve his hometown of Manchester, the region and the state," according to the county regional commission.

When asked how Nundy would have reacted to his son's receiving the Bongartz Award, Seth said his dad would have been pleased.

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"My father and I share a lot of the same values of planning, conservation, thoughtful land use," he said. "I think it would mean a lot to him to know that I'd been able to, in my own way, participate and carry on the work that he did so well."

The commission's dinner meeting, which will be held Wednesday at the Kimpton Taconic Hotel in Manchester, is open to the public. It will start at 5 p.m., and there's an entry fee of $35. Advance registration is required.

For more information, contact Stacey Eggsware at 802-442-0713.

Tiffany Tan can be reached at, @tiffgtan at Twitter and 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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