By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
On one hand, Mark Caillier knew what was coming.
After all, as Caillier and others listened to Derik Milton present the President’s Award – the first of two, it turned out – at the Jan. 25 Keizer First Citizen Awards banquet, a picture of Caillier briefly flashed on the screen.
“I thought, ‘OK,’” Caillier said. “Then they started talking about stuff. It wasn’t until they got down to projects that I thought, ‘I should think about what I’m going to say up there.’ And I didn’t. I was still going, ‘It might be me. But if it’s not, will I be disappointed or embarrassed?’ I just wasn’t sure.”
Indeed it was Caillier earning the award, sponsored by Marion County Fire District No. 1. Since retiring in 2003 after 29 years at the Salem Police Department, Caillier has focused much of his effort on volunteering in Keizer. That included a four-year stint on the Keizer City Council.
Caillier, the son of two educators who volunteered, has been part of the Claggett Creek Watershed Council, is leading clean-up efforts at Keizer Civic Center this weekend and Feb. 22, plus he’s co-general coordinator of The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park project. And that’s just some of his involvement.
“He is committed to the Keizer community,” Milton said of Caillier. “If you ever want something done that’s high priority, high risk and you need it done in a professional way, this is the person you call. He’s Keizer’s MVP in every capacity. Our community would not be as rich without him.”
Caillier, 61, grew up in Dallas and was inspired by the volunteering spirit.
“But Keizer really sets the high standard,” he said. “To get any recognition like this is truly humbling. I like it when I have the chance to do things and no one says anything. I get embarrassed about recognition. To say I don’t enjoy (the attention) is wrong. You like for someone to say thank you. But to get such public recognition is humbling and embarrassing. There are so many other folks out there.
“You don’t do it for the recognition,” Caillier added. “You do it because it’s a great community project or it’s something that’s needed. I think of things needed by the community.”
One prime example is the voter’s box installed in the city hall parking lot last year.
“It’s something people can really use and enjoy,” Caillier said.
In retrospect, Caillier realized wife Kris had left some subtle clues he won the award.
“I should have known,” said Caillier, who couldn’t remember what he was going to say once he came on stage. “My wife looked at me Saturday morning and asked if I needed a haircut. I should have known. Other than taunting her while on stage, I should have thanked her for all of her support. Without her, most of this would not be possible.”
Caillier said being on council also makes more things possible.
“When you have successful projects, it’s easier to get more help to do more projects,” he said. “Your network grows. Being on council gave me the opportunity to vastly increase the number of people I know. Also, I have time that is somewhat flexible. I can organize my time around opportunities.”
For Caillier, winning the award sunk in the day after the banquet.
“It didn’t hit home until much later,” he said. “The magnitude of receiving this award didn’t hit until the next day. I was putting the clock up in my office when I thought, ‘This is pretty darn important.’”