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Former Keizer City Councilor Joe Egli (far left) celebrates winning the Merchant of the Year award

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By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Former city councilors scored a sweep at the 2014 Keizer Chamber First Citizen Award Banquet last Saturday, Jan. 31 at Keizer Quality Suites.

Former Keizer Mayor and councilor Lore Christopher was named First Citizen; former Keizer City Councilor Joe Egli picked up Merchant of the Year honors; former Salem City Councilor Dan Clem earned the President’s Award and former Keizer City Councilor Chuck Lee as well as wife Krina got the Service to Education Award.

Clem was the first to receive his award, after being chosen by Keizer Chamber of Commerce president Audrey Butler. Clem joined the Keizer chamber last June and is in charge of the Government Affairs Committee. He recently retired from the Salem City Council.

“I’m shocked,” said Clem, who took some good-natured ribbing from event emcee Nathan Bauer and others for not being dressed up. “Keizer is such a wonderful place because of the people. I’m deeply humbled and honored.”

Ron Hittner, the 2013 Service to Education recipient, introduced the Lees.

“Chuck’s decisions always came down to what’s best for the kids,” Hittner said.

Chuck, the former president of Blanchet Catholic School and current member of the Salem-Keizer School Board, is currently president of the Mountain West Career and Technical Institute. Krina is executive director of the Salem Keizer Education Foundation.

“This is an incredible award to receive,” Chuck said. “I love Keizer and I love representing Keizer on the school board. I tried for years to make it the Keizer-Salem School District. We’ve got a great community.”

Egli received his award from 2013 Merchant of the Year Rob Miller.

“The thing is to get people around you who are better than you,” Egil said. “I started coming to Keizer in 1976, when my dad would come down to Fortune Cookie.”

When it came time to introduce this year’s First Citizen, 2013 recipient John Doneth had all former recipients in the room come to the front to be recognized. The 12 in attendance stayed up front as Doneth announced Christopher as the newest member of the club, giving her the chance to greet each person.

“This is really a lifetime achievement award,” Doneth said.

Christopher was excited to get the award.

“My mom told me as a kid you’re judged by the company you keep,” she said. “I hope that’s true. I hope that these people that are in front of you, the city council members that I’ve served with, and my fellow nominees, I hope I’m judged by those folks because there’s none finer.”

Other nominees for First Citizen were Rich Duncan, Richard Walsh, Don Conat and Mark Caillier. Other Merchant of the Year nominees were Keizertimes publisher Lyndon Zaitz, Scott and Kalynn White, Shelly Paddock and Larry Jackson. Other Service to Education nominees were JoAnne Beilke, Jim Taylor, Scott Coburn and John Honey.

A new addition this year was the opportunity for companies or organizations to sponsor one of the front tables and to recognize those making a difference and Rising to the Occasion, which was the theme for the banquet. There were 10 such tables.

Keizer Fire District recognized retired fire board member Mike Hart, Oregon State Credit Union recognized Kevin and Danielle Dial, Sammies Pub recognized Keizer Thunder coach Jamie Gonzalez, Remodeling by Classic Homes recognized Lakepoint Community Church for its annual Servefest event, Chemeketa Community College recognized McNary High School’s Rhonda Brattain, Walery’s Premium Pizza honored the late Paul Koch, Saint Edward Catholic Church recognized Corky and Leitha Caron, Avamere recognized Margaret Murphy for her volunteering at Avamere Court, 1430 AM KYKN recognized the Distinguished Young Women of Keizer program and the Statesman Journal recognized the MHS basketball teams for raising funds to help classmate Payton Williams.

Mayor Cathy Clark, who took over Keizer’s top spot from Christopher last month, ended the evening with a toast.

“I’m looking at a whole room of people who love Keizer,” Clark said. “We will work diligently to serve you the way you serve each other.”

Complete profiles of the main winners will be featured in upcoming issues of the Keizertimes.