The City of Brooksville held its regularly scheduled city council meeting on August 7, and one of the agenda items was selecting the recipient of the 2023 Great Brooksvillian Award.
Every year, the city recognizes an outstanding citizen who has made significant and positive contributions to the community’s history, culture, and economy and has essentially made the City of Brooksville community a “Better Place to Live.” This year, the Great Brooksvillian Screening Committee had four nominations for the coveted award.
During the council meeting, Rick Carlton, Vice Chairman of the Great Brooksvillian Nominating Committee, presented the nominees: Sandra Knox, Roy Link, Barbara Manuel, and Mabel Sims. Carlton filled in for Chairman Skip Samples, who was unable to attend the meeting due to being out of town on business. Other nominating committee members include Jan Knowles, Elizabeth Witherell, and Debbie Daniel.
“All four are worthy candidates and have made significant contributions to the City of Brooksville and the surrounding area,” said Carlton. “Any of these would be worthy of your consideration.”
Mayor Blake Bell then explained the voting process that the council has used in the past and gave the council the option to vote, collect tallies, or have someone take a motion. Council member and Vice Mayor David Bailey, Seat 2, then made a motion to pick long-time Brooksville resident Barbara Manuel as the award recipient. The motion was then seconded by Council Member Christa Tanner, Seat 1. The council then voted unanimously for Manuel to be the honored recipient of the 2023 Great Brooksvillian Award.
An honorary reception customarily falls sometime in October, but the city will confirm with Manuel’s family as to what is a convenient time to get together.
Manuel, a long-time resident of Brooksville since 1966, taught chorus at Hernando High School for many years, mentoring decades of Brooksvillians and fostering in them a love of the arts, as well as teaching them important leadership skills that would benefit them in a wide variety of industries.
She has also been a prolific supporter of various community nonprofits throughout the years, including fundraising for the Live Oak Theatre building, the Hernando Park Rotary fence and helping organize Brooksville’s Christmas on Main Street event. Manuel was a founding member of the Brooksville Vision Foundation and helped launch the nonprofit Brooksville Main Street, where she served as the first Promotions Committee Chair. She currently runs the radio stations WWJB and WXJB with her husband Steve.
There was no shortage of praise and admiration from community leaders who have known Manuel and wrote letters of support to the Brooksville City Council, praising her many contributions to the community.
Natalie Kahler, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street, nominated Manuel for the award, along with the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce.
Vince Vanni, Vice President and Marketing Director of Live Oak Theatre, who has known Manuel since 1986, when he became active in the community, also wrote the council a letter, adding, “I have always held her in the highest regard as a teacher and one of the most creative artists and artistic leaders in our community.”
A selfless and public-spirited individual, Manuel later told the Hernando Sun that the other candidates were also very worthy of the 2023 Great Brooksvillian Award, and she is just very honored to receive it.