Saugus honors Fasano and Manoogian with “Person of the Year Award”
By Mark E. Vogler
Two elected town officials from both ends of the political spectrum – one a Republican, the other a Democrat – called former Saugus Selectmen Janette Fasano and Peter Manoogian public officials they looked up to during their early days of public service.
“These two inspired me to get into government and serve in the community,” State Rep. Donald Wong, a four-term incumbent Republican lawmaker from Saugus, told the crowd gathered in front of Town Hall last Saturday.
“I served as a Town Meeting member. When Janette Fasano retired as chairman [of the Board of Selectmen], I got so much great information from her,” Wong said.
Board of Selectmen Chair Debra Panetta spoke of her gratitude when she followed Wong to the lectern set up on the platform at the bottom of the Town Hall steps. “I proud I am to be standing at the stage with these men and women who have given so much for Saugus,” said Panetta.
“When I was working my way up, these two people inspired me,” she said.
Last Saturday, the town embraced Fasano and Manoogian as this year’s winners of the “Person of the Year Award” during the 38th Annual Saugus Founders Day Celebration. “In Recognition to Your Dedication to the Town of Saugus This Award Truly Exemplifies the Outstanding Ideals and Spirit of Our Founding Fathers,” reads the inscription on the plaque each received during a special ceremony at High Noon in front of Town Hall.
“The Town of Saugus Salutes You … 2018,” it declares.
Fasano and Manoogian are the latest of 56 Saugus residents who have been honored at Founders Day, going back to 1989 when the award originated. Since 1993, a man and a woman have received the recognition which had been presented to male citizens during its first four years of existence.
“Dedicating themselves to Saugus”
Each year, past winners meet to recommend new recipients. Several past award winners sat on a wooden stage set up at the bottom of the steps at Town Hall, where the presentation was made.
In her remarks, Panetta went on to praise this year’s recipients as outstanding role models for anyone interested in becoming involved in local government. “His work ethic was remarkable,” Panetta said of Manoogian. “He’s very passionate about Saugus and the people in our community,” she said.
“Janette has dedicated 27 years on the Board of Selectmen,” Panetta said, noting that Fasano was the first woman elected to the town body . “I admire your advocacy,” Panetta said.
Fasano and Manoogian each had “a knack” for making the difficult decisions, according to Panetta. “Both of these individuals have dedicated themselves to making Saugus a better place,” she said.
Both of this year’s recipients served a span of more than three decades in local government.
Fasano began her career in Saugus public service in 1977 when she was appointed to the Board of Appeals. A year later, she was appointed to the Finance Committee. In 1979, she was elected to Saugus Town Meeting as a member from Precinct 9.
During a special election to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Selectmen in 1980, she beat out five other candidates to become the first woman elected to the Board of Selectmen, where she served for 27 consecutive years. In 1987, she topped the ticket in the selectmen’s race and thus became the first woman chair of the Saugus Board of Selectmen. She served as chair for 18 consecutive years.
Manoogian served 10 two-year terms as a Town Meeting member of Precinct 10. He also served 11 years on the Finance Committee, six years on the Board of Selectmen, two years as a School Committee member, two years as chair of the Saugus Charter Commission and on many other local government bodies.
“He’s the author of hundreds of bylaws and charter changes,” said Robert J. Long, a former colleague of Manoogian’s on the Board of Selectmen. Long, last year’s “Person of the Year Award” recipient, who introduced Manoogian, called his service “unmatched.”
Ruth L. Berg, last year’s winner, introduced Fasano and called her service record “legendary.” “To this day, Janette continues to serve the Town of Saugus as the Metropolitan Area Planning Council representative and as a member of the Friends of the Saugus Senior Center,” Berg said.
Fasano and Manoogian joined former Selectman Long in an exclusive circle of selectmen who have been honored as “Person of the Year” recipients over the years. The other two members who served with them during the period 1987 to 1991 – Florence Chandler (2003) and Richard Barry (2006) – are past recipients of the award.