The Keizer Chamber of Commerce held its annual First Citizen banquet last Saturday and they hit it out of the park with the four who won awards.

Joe Egli was announced as Keizer’s First Citizen Award to sustained applause. The creators seemed to have Egli in mind when they conceived of the award. Few First Citizens have had their fingerprints in so many different areas of Keizer life. His resume is dizzying.

A life-long Oregonian and a long-time Keizerite Egli has served in public capacities, committee member; he served one term as a Keizer City Councilor.

A born leader, Egli has served as president of both the Keizer Chamber of Commerce and the Keizer Rotary Club. But it is in his role as resident he has displayed his most far-reaching influence. Every major project in Keizer over the past two decades has had Egli as a cheerleader. His gift for rallying support and volunteers for projects as diverse as The Big Toy, the artificial turf at McNary High School, leadership of the Iris Festival and his the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation is legendary.

Egli and his wife Shelly comprise one of the most productive teams when it comes to their home. He does what is needed to be done without seeking the spotlight or credit. As he said himself as he accepted his award, it’s all about the people in Keizer. Yes, it certainly is, Mr. Egli.

The pattern to the awards seemed to be multi-tasking. The Merchant of the Year award was presented to Larry Jackson of Jackson’s Body Shop. When volunteers are called for, Jackson is one of the first in line. He serves on the board of directors for the Chamber and volunteers as one of the Men of Action in Keizer (MAK). Christmas displays? Does it. Iris Festival? Does it. Big Toy? Did it.

Larry Jackson was very deserving of the Merchant of the Year award and he will continue his good civic works and continue to inspire others to pitch in and help in his community. For that the community thanks you, Larry.

Another multi-tasker honored Saturday night was Jason Flores who was presented with the Service to Education Award. Over the years this award has been bestowed on teachers, administrators, coaches and boosters—all of whom have had a positive impact on Keizer’s school kids.

A residential builder (Celtic Homes, LLC), Flores devotes just as much time to Keizer kid’s sports as he does to his own business. For more than 15 years he has coached baseball, softball and football for youth teams. Along with coaching and mentoring he has also been deeply involved with projects such as the Keizer Little League fields, the turf, refurbished scoreboard and softball dugout projects at McNary High School.

Like all good volunteers he puts money where his heart is. He and his wife Keri sponsor students in their chosen sport through the McNary Athletic Booster Club’s Adopt-an-Athlete program.

Youth sports in Keizer are a success due in part to community volunteers like Jason Flores.

At their discretion, the Chamber of Commerce leaders present their President’s Award. The recipients of this award over the years have been a varied group who have made indelible impacts on the Chamber and the city.

Nathan Bauer, president of the Chamber’s board of directors, made an impassioned speech before announcing he was honoring Matthew Lawyer, who was stunned by the announcement.

Matthew Lawyer is the future of Keizer volunteering and leadership. A man who doesn’t know how to say no, can be found involved with community projects as well as projects that are his personal passion—he is a board member of Keizer Homegrown Theatre (he has quite the stage presence).

On the public side he serves on the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board where his passion for the city’s parks is evident at every meeting. He has a young family and his concerns mirror those of most Keizer households, which is important.

He is also a member of the Keizer Planning Commission, one of the most important bodies in the city. The commission is the first stop in the process for developers and contractors to get green lit by the city council for their projects. His sober, realistic views will be valuable when time comes to seriously discuss future growth in the guise of an Urban Growth Boundary expansion.

What does any of this have to do with the Keizer Chamber of Commerce? Everything…when you help make the city a great place to live and run a business, that’s the Chamber’s mission. Full stop.

Congratulations to all the recipients of this year’s awards.

  —LAZ