Public Servants Merit Awards
Although COVID-19 required us to modify the 74th Annual Franklin A. Polk Public Servants Merit Awards Ceremony to a virtual format, it was an event to remember! CMBF President Carter Strang joined by video to welcome 11 honorees, their nominators, and a limited number of guests to the CMBA Conference Center on Friday, September 18, 2020 for the hybrid program. While we recognize that the current health emergency has significantly disrupted many events, we could not bare the thought of cancelling one of the Bar Foundation’s most meaningful programs.
The plan to honor deserving public servants was inaugurated in 1947 by the late Raymond D. Metzner, a past President of the Cuyahoga County Bar Association (CCBA). CCBA Past President Franklin A. Polk served annually as continuous chairman until 1986. Mr. Polk was involved with this program until his passing in 1991. In 1986, the Public Servants Merit Award was renamed the "Franklin A. Polk Public Servants Merit Award" to honor Mr. Polk's dedication and outstanding service to the CCBA and CCBF. In 2009, the Cleveland Bar Foundation and Cuyahoga County Bar Foundation unified as the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation. The CMBF is honored and proud to continue this annual tradition providing an opportunity for celebration that is so meaningful to the judges, clerks, and court staff.
For 74 years city, county, state and federal courts and clerks of courts offices are asked to nominate non-elected employees for their years of outstanding service to the legal profession, the general public, and our justice system. These merit awards are given for long and faithful service, devotion to duty, wise counsel, unfailing patience, and assistance to the public and members of the Bench and Bar of this county. This year it was more important than ever to continue our tradition of recognizing the unsung heroes amongst us who have and continue to keep the wheels of justice turning. It was clear that the honorees were truly appreciative that we proceeded with the event, despite the extraordinary times we are facing.
The event typically welcomes more than 400 or more attendees annually, including the judges and clerks of court who will accompany the honorees. With this year's event being held virtually, we were thrilled to have an even wider audience than usual join the viewing celebration via Zoom and Facebook Live. The 11 honorees told their stories and each one expressed gratitude even after giving so much of themselves.
In case you missed it, the entire event is accessible any time on our YouTube Channel.
In the history of the event, more than 350 Cuyahoga County residents have been honored as outstanding public servants, representing in total more than 8,500 years of exemplary public service. Their names are displayed on a distinguished plaque in the entry lobby of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse at One Lakeside Avenue.