Former Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher was giddy to accept the First Citizen Award at last year’s awards banquet. This year’s event takes place Saturday evening at Keizer Quality Suites. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)

Former Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher was giddy to accept the First Citizen Award at last year’s awards banquet. This year’s event takes place Saturday evening at Keizer Quality Suites. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Christine Dieker wants the attention to go to the right place.

On Saturday evening at the Keizer Quality Suites, the Keizer Chamber of Commerce is putting on the 55th annual Keizer First Citizen and Awards Banquet. The event starts with a 6 p.m. social hour and dinner at 7, followed by the awards. Individual tickets are $45 while tables of eight are available for $360.

Dieker, the executive director of the chamber since 1998, has announced her resignation. Her replacement is expected to be named in early February.

As such, it might be natural to assume Dieker will be the center of attention on the state come Saturday night.

Not if she has her way.

“This is not about me,” Dieker said this week. “This is our community night.”

There are some changes this year, including the list of nominees not being announced in advanced. The four awards are Keizer First Citizen, Merchant of the Year, President’s Award and Service to Education Award.

“It’s going to be a total surprise this year,” Dieker said. “It will be kind of neat. This selection committee said let’s make it a big surprise.”

Former Mayor Lore Christopher, now chair of the Keizer Public Arts Commission, won the First Citizen award last year. Joe Egli, a former Keizer City Councilor who works for R. Bauer Insurance, was Merchant of the Year. Dan Clem, who worked for the Keizer Chamber at the time and is now with the Salem Chamber, won the President’s Award. Power couple Chuck and Krina Lee won the Service to Education Award. Chuck is a longtime Salem-Keizer School Board member while Krina runs the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation.

Another new addition is the $60 Night Stay Addition Package, which includes a night of lodging at the Keizer Quality Suites.

“This is brand new,” Dieker said. “We were able to offer attendees something if they want to have a night stay. McNary Restaurant and Lounge is doing the transportation from the hotel to their place, where the after hours party will be. It’s just to keep the partygoers safe. They can enjoy the night and have a night in Keizer.”

A new addition last year was the Rising to the Occasion, which has morphed into Pairings of Excellence tables this year. Special couples, friends, cooperating organizations or partners that are stewards of the community will be honored and recognized at these tables.

“It’s being well received,” Dieker said. “We are reaching out to identify couples and partnerships doing excellent work in the community. It’s a nice place and nice time to give recognition because it is a community gathering.”

Dieker said the event won’t feel like a goodbye for her.

“It will just be different next year,” she said. “I remember 18 years ago I attended the banquet as a community volunteer. I have full intentions to go next year and the years beyond.”

Nathan Bauer is returning as event emcee, while Grand Jazz and Swing Band will provide the live music. Ticket information is available by calling the chamber office at 503-393-9111.

“We are looking forward to it,” Dieker said of the evening. “It should be another fantastic banquet.”