Former councilman George Apel to fill vacancy
By Kym Soper
VERNON - Republican Town Committee members Wednesday unanimously chose George F. Apel to fill the Town Council seat vacated by Christy N. Vale, who resigned in January to spend more time with family as she retires from her state job.
A lifelong resident, Apel, 71, will finish out Vale's term, which runs to November.
This is not the first time at bat for Apel, who was first elected to the council in 1993. Two years later he decided not to run for re-election, saying he wanted to dedicate more time to his charity work.
At the time Apel had been appointed finance committee chairman of the Hartford area chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit Christian housing ministry, and was absorbed with a four-year project erecting a six-unit townhouse on Brooklyn Street in Rockville.
A retired engineer, Apel says that during his upcoming eight-month tenure on the council his concern will be keeping taxes down.
"I feel that in Vernon they're getting quite high, and with increases coming from the state, we have to minimize taxes locally," he said today.
Mayor Ellen L. Marmer, a Democrat, said she is looking forward to working with Apel.
"I know George well - I appointed him to the school building committee. He's very attuned to the community and its needs and I look forward to serving with him," she said, adding with a chuckle, "I hope he has a lot of free time in the next month as we approach budget season."
Apel says he looks forward to the challenge.
"I don't think we spend enough time on the government side scrutinizing where in the budget money can be cut," Apel said.
Described by Republicans as a strong willed individual and dedicated public servant, Apel retired from Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford in 1991 after 21 years in supervisory and management positions.
In 1993 he told the Journal Inquirer that he had always wanted to be more involved in politics and civic duties, but couldn't find time before retirement as he sometimes spent 12 hours a day at work.
Two years later he walked away from the council, saying his volunteer activities prevented his full-time involvement in politics.
But Habitat is no longer in the Rockville area, Apel said today. And while he and his wife, Joan, were at one time foster parents to Vernon, an 80-pound German shepherd for Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, there are no new puppies at home to be trained as guide dogs for blind people, he said.
Right now the couple is committed only to a weekly noontime delivery route for Meals on Wheels, bringing hot lunches to homebound elderly and disabled residents, he said.
"There's nothing left to keep me from concentrating full-time on council work," Apel said.
Republican Town Chairman Hal Cummings said today that the nominations and recruitment committee recommended Apel for the post at the monthly town committee meeting on Wednesday.
There are 50 members in the town committee, and about 20 attended and voted for Apel, Cummings said.
John Anderson, chairman of the selection committee, said it was difficult choosing a replacement for Vale.
"There were several people that expressed interest in serving and we conducted a few interviews, but one of the difficulties in this sort of thing is you can only chose one," Anderson said. "We're just thrilled that people wanted to be considered at all."
There are about 10 people on the standing committee, including council members William Campbell and Daniel Anderson.
What struck them most about Apel was his dedication, Anderson said.
"I was pretty new on the town committee back when George first served on the council, and I was always impressed with his professionalism," Anderson said. "He does his homework. He doesn't go to council meetings just to be seen and heard. He really knows what he's talking about."
Apel holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and a master's in business administration. He served in the Navy from 1954-57 and resides on Tallwood Drive.
He, his wife, and their three children all attended Vernon schools.
©Journal Inquirer 2007