The closest thing Keizer has to an Oscars-style evening is the annual First Citizen and Awards Banquet staged by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.
Recepients of the 2015 awards were announced Saturday night and the committee that made the choices got it just right.
Mark Caillier was named Keizer’s First Citizen to roaring applause and approval by the audience, comprised of Keizer’s volunteer, business, community and civic leaders.
Presenter Lore Christopher (last year’s First Citizen) read off a list of Caillier’s many accomplishments—his most recent project was as construction coordinator for the Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park in June. That is just one of the things that make Caillier a true first citizen of Keizer.
If he had been honored for his work on the Big Toy, that would have been enough but Caillier has had a hand in many parts of the city, from his service on various city committees, service on the city council and his volunteer work on the Keizer Community Library and Keizer Art Association’s computer needs.
As Christopher said, Caillier is man who loves his community and is hard pressed to say no when asked for his advice, experience or muscle.
The average resident may be unaware of Caillier’s contribution to every facet of the city, but they continue to benefit from his unselfish volunteerism and advocacy over the years and will into the future.
The names of First Citizens winners from the 1960s to today is a list of the city’s most devoted residents who never asked “what’s in it for me?” They rolled up their sleeves and asked “how can I help?” Caillier is one of the most accomplished honorees ever.
The Chamber of Commerce also bestowed honors on three others Saturday night.
Scott White, owner of Big Town Hero, was named Mechant of the Year for his good work for the Chamber and within the community. He is a supporter of athletic programs in Keizer, especially at McNary High School. He has donated store space, his time and food for teams, Chamber events and fund raising efforts by non-profits such as Wake the World, an organization that provides the thrill of water sports to kids. His positive attitude and smile have graced community and Chamber events for years.
Last year’s recepient, Joe Egli, presented White with the award. In his speech White recognized the support and help from his family, most of whom have a hand in operating Big Town Hero.
The Service to Education Award was granted to John Honey, former McNary High School principal and current principal of the Career and Technical Education Center in Salem, a public-private venure that adds a technical-vocational element to the education of Salem-Keizer high school juniors and seniors.
Honey was instrumental, along with Mountain West Career Technical Institute and its president Chuck Lee, in developing the school that will prepare students for high-wage, high-skilled careers. Krina and Chuck Lee, the 2014 winners, presented the award to Honey.
Bob Zielinski opened the awards by annoucing he was presenting the President’s Award to Danielle Bethell. Bethell, president of the McNary Athletic Boosters Club, led the effort to install artificial turf at McNary High School’s Flesher Field.
Danielle led projects to add amenities to the Keizer Little League fields. She was also a team leader for the Big Toy project.
Keizer’s night of awards and recognition got it right again by honoring Caillier, White, Honey and Bethell. They are an inspiration to those who love their community and work to keep it one of the desirable addresses in Oregon.