Bill Buri Named Outstanding Citizen In Maumee

Maumee resident Bill Buri has been named the Maumee Outstanding Citizen for the 49th annual Hometown Hero Awards. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — When Bill Buri and his wife Lynn moved to Maumee three decades ago, they saw the large lawn behind their house, not as something to mow, but as something to grow.

Soon, their space began filling in with more native plants and wildlife – from foxes and deer to groundhogs and birds. 

Over the years, the two became heavily involved with the environment; and since Lynn’s passing, Buri has continued to give back to the community – people, plants and animals alike.

“I’ve always liked being in the outdoors, ever since I was a kid. It’s been a part of my life,” Buri said. “Whatever I can do, I want to be able to pass on to my grandchildren a better world than where we live in now. It’s not such a bad world now, but it can be better.”

His dedication, particularly to the Maumee Environmental & Tree Advisory Commission and the local environment, is what made him stand out to Alaina Meister, who nominated him for the Outstanding Citizen Award through the Maumee Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Hero Awards.

“He is a driving force to update tree policy and procedures in the city of Maumee,” Meister said in her nomination. “He is currently working on an educational brochure titled ‘How to Plant a Tree’ as a free city handout.”

Planting trees and changing policy is only one way to give back and support the environment, but it is vital to the health of the planet, Buri noted.

“Trees help clean the air, retain moisture, hold carbon, add value to the town and properties and they’re just pretty,” Buri said. “We need to increase the canopy in town.”

Part of the work the city needs to do to continue that work is to perform an urban site index, which involves cataloguing data from every area of town and analyzing soil, traffic patterns, space available and more.

A tree inventory, which will occur later, will also catalog every city tree in town and can help the city identify what it already has and plan for the future.

“We’re not going to be here forever, and we need to give a good blueprint for the future,” Buri said.

Buri and Lynn had been a driving force in changing the nuisance weed law in Maumee many years ago, Meister noted. Common milkweed and other native plants, which are now widely seen in native prairies and are highly encouraged plantings, were once considered nuisance plants.

After helping change local laws, they were ultimately able to transform their backyard into a more welcoming environment for local fauna and flora.

In addition to those volunteer efforts, Buri also dedicates his time to Partners for Clean Streams, which he got involved in because of his daughter.

“Years ago, she said, ‘Dad, I need someone to oversee a group of kids cleaning up a stream in Sylvania on Clean Your Stream Day,’” Buri said. “I did that for a couple years and I got excited about it and got involved with Partners for Clean Streams.”

He became involved with the project in several local parks and currently serves on the board. Buri plans to continue to have an active hand in the organization following the end of his term on the board, too.

“I have a concern that our environment is going the wrong way, and we have a big hand in that problem. We also have a big hand in being able to solve it. It’s not going to be an overnight fix. It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take some alternate choices,” Buri said.

It will, however, be worth it, he is convinced.

However, he and his fellow volunteers with the Environmental & Tree Advisory Commission and Partners for Clean Streams will need the support of the community both now and in the future.

“Maumee is a small town with a lot of good people,” Buri said. “They are supportive, and we need to continue our efforts. It’s going to be really dynamic. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, it is. In the next 10 years, Maumee will only get better.”

In order to be good stewards of the environment and the local community, Buri encourages others to find groups that help them pursue their passion and to get involved at whatever level they are able.

“If you pick something that interests you, and you do it individually or with your family or friends, you will get satisfaction from it,” he advised.

In his down time from his many involvements, Buri can often be seen walking through town with a puppy. For a few years now, he has been working with The Ability Center to raise future assistance dogs before they enter training.

It’s just another thing he enjoys doing and knows it can benefit others.

In each endeavor he embarks on, Buri does his best to create a space that will be welcoming for the community.

“I really thought I was doing all of this under the radar, so it’s been hard to wrap my head around all of this recognition, but I hope it encourages others to find something they’re passionate about, too,” Buri said.

To celebrate Buri and the other award winners, interested residents can visit maumeechamber.com to purchase tickets to the Hometown Hero Awards on Thursday, March 28.

Tickets are $40.00 per person or $350 for a table of 10. The event will be at the Pinnacle at 1772 Indian Wood Circle in Maumee. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Check Also

Austin Wilson Is Accepted Into The U.S. Naval Academy

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The first time Austin Wilson stepped onto the bridge of a …