MONROE, Conn. -- Steps away from the busy corridors of Routes 25 and 111 is Monroe, a bucolic reminder of Fairfield County's past.
"I look out my kitchen window and see a farm across the way with chickens and other animals. We have some of the few remaining farms around. But we can also easily get to the Merritt Parkway and 95 and 84, and Route 8," said Lee Hossler, who was named the Monroe Outstanding Citizen for 2017.
He talked recently to Daily Voice about his adopted hometown — he arrived 46 years ago from Lancaster County, Pa.
Along with touting the "beautiful countryside," Hossler highlighted Monroe's accessibility to lower Fairfield County as well as points north.
"But then you step off the main corridors of Routes 111 and 25 and it's just beautiful. I'm always working to get businesses to move here. ... Just last night we had a grand opening of a new restaurant, Monroe Social," he told Daily Voice.
The sentiment would explain his drive to promote Monroe in the various hats he wears as an unofficial town ambassador.
These include service on the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce, Save Our Stepney Task Force, the Monroe Historical Society, Connecticut Trust for Historic Barns, and the Monroe Arts and Culture Council.
"It's a nice rural atmosphere, and easy to get from here anywhere. It's the quiet corner of Fairfield County. I’m a doer and I like to get things done. That's what I do. Part of my job for the Chamber is bringing in new businesses," he said.
Recalling the years when he and his wife were raising their son, Hossler said the town was in a growth spurt.
"It was burgeoning with new houses and people moving in. It was an interesting time. Things were moving along pretty fast."
In contrast, today the town is not growing. "There's hardly, or just a very few homes being built. It's slowly starting to bring in new business. It's been a while since we had a new business. Usually, people leave and close shop."
To spur the growth, Hossler and others on the Economic Development Commission began to hold monthly meetings locally for the Fairfield County Commercial Brokers Network in Monroe, of which Hossler is a member.
"We gave the members a bus tour of the town, to see the industrial park and Route 25 and Route 11, had lunch for them," Hossler said.
Now retired, his career background is in sales and marketing.
"Over many years, for any cause, Lee has been asked to serve, he has responded without hesitation. He is truly the consummate Monroe community volunteer," said Marvin Moss, who is on the committee that named Hossler the Monroe Outstanding Citizen for 2017.
"Criteria included outstanding achievement, exceptional volunteerism, humanitarian service, lifetime distinction, philanthropic activities, and raising the profile and image of Monroe," Moss said.
Humbled by the award, Hossler said, "There are lots of volunteers out there doing great things. To be singled out is really an honor."