Earlier this month the Wayne Township Trustee Department held a farewell cake and ice cream retirement party for two of our favorite staff members, Gwen Carpenter, whose celebration we couldn’t hold last year because of the pandemic and Cindy Mahler, director of the WTTO Payee Department. “Today we were able to celebrate two retirements from our office’s payee department. These two have gone above and beyond for our clients for 18 years and 28 years respectively. They will be missed, but I’m glad I had the chance to serve our community alongside these two. Ms. Gwen and Ms. Cindy thank you for your years of service to the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office – Fort Wayne we will miss you!” said Trustee Austin Knox.
Both Cindy and Gwen filled shoes in several departments over the years, but ended their careers in the Payee Department, Gwen as payee clerk who spent most of her time interacting face-to-face with her clients and Cindy who was the department’s Director.
The Payee Department provides a valuable service for Wayne Township by helping Social Security recipients who need it with their banking and bill paying and with applying for other services they may be eligible for in the community. Without this valuable program many of our clients would be eligible for and would need to rely on Township Assistance dollars to get by, so this service has saved many Wayne Township tax dollars over the years.
As of June 14, the new director of our Representative Payee Services will be Ralph Charlton, who has been running the accounting end of the department for the past 14 years. He is looking forward to his new role which includes overseeing his staff, Katelyn Schuck who will be interacting with clients one-on-one and Ashley Cowen who will be taking over the accounting functions.
On a different note, this will be the first year that Wayne Township will be closed (on Friday June 18) in commemoration of Juneteenth. June nineteenth was the day in 1865 that Texans, particularly African-American Texans, learned that slavery in the United States had been abolished. Even though President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 (that freed the slaves in the Confederate states on January 1, 1863), the slaves in Texas did not learn the news until Union troops arrived in Galveston two and a half years later. That day Union General Gordon Granger read aloud the announcement of the Proclamation to a joyous crowd, and June 19th became known as “Juneteenth,” the day that many thousands of people in bondage found out that they were, in fact, free.
Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1980, and since then almost all the states have gotten on board. Indiana became the 34th to make it official in 2010. Today, forty-six of the 50 United States recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday or a day of observance. The four states that do not recognize Juneteenth are Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.
In Fort Wayne this year there have been educational seminars and celebrations throughout the week before June 19th and on that day there will be a celebration at McMillen Park Community Center. There will be food and music and booths of various organizations including the Wayne Township Trustee Office.
We hope to see you there. It should be fun, educational and a good time for being together with friends and family—including our dad’s. Happy Father’s Day!