FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Representatives and residents of many groups in town stood up to thank the Fairfield Board of Selectmen and the selection committee Wednesday night for picking Tom Steinke as the Town Employee of the Year.
He was touted as a “guardian of the environment” and thanked profusely for all the work he has done over the past 40 years in his employment with the town.
The Town Employee of the Year award goes to a worker with “service and job performance that goes beyond the daily work of the individual and benefits the Fairfield government and community.” A three-person panel picked top choices for the Board of Selectmen to select a winner.
The work Steinke has done as director of the Conservation Department has included the Exide site cleanup efforts, which will help in the removal of lead in the Mill River Basin. He also designed and patented self-regulating tide gates used to restore 150 acres of salt marsh in town.
In the nomination letter, FairPLAN Chairman Linda Snelham-Moore said Steinke’s work “includes detailed investigation, research and education regarding serious and complex land use issues.”
Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau said Steinke was passionate and knowledgeable of many aspects of the town and said Steinke is one of the first people he turns to for information.
“He’s always impressed me with his depth of knowledge,” Tetreau said, comparing him to “the proverbial bull dog when he gets a hold of an issue.”
Tetreau said Steinke was told that the board wanted an update on the marsh cleanup as a pretense to get him to the meeting to get his award.
“I think it just says a lot about you, Tom, that you are interested in [the work]. It’s not about being recognized it’s about getting the work done,” Selectman Cristin McCarthy-Vahey said.
That sentiment was echoed by Selectman Kevin Kiley, who called Steinke dedicated and passionate about protecting Fairfield and its land.
“This was unexpected,” Steinke said after hearing the praise from the board and members of the public. “It’s an honor to receive this.”
Receiving the award, Steinke said, was “a thank you to Fairfield” and to everyone he has worked with through the years.