By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Whoever follows Joe Egli as Keizer’s First Citizen will have a high bar to clear.
Egli’s long list of community involvement includes the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Keizer, Keizer Iris Festival, McNary High School, the City of Keizer and the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation (SKEF).
Egli was honored as First Citizen on Saturday, Jan. 20, at an awards banquet sponsored by the Keizer Chamber and Bonaventure Senior Living. He was one of four annual award winners that included Merchant of the Year Larry Jackson, Service to Education Award winner Jason Flores and Matt Lawyer, who was selected for the President’s Award given out by the departing president of the Chamber of Commerce. All the winners were presented clocks provided by Boucher’s Jewelers representing the time they’ve given back to the community.
“(Joe’s) accomplishments are diverse and contribute almost daily to making Keizer a better place to live, work and play,” said Jim Trett, the previous winner of the First Citizen title. “Anyone who reaches out to him will find a listening ear and, more than that, a helping hand.”
Egli has served on most of the committees formed by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, is a former Keizer city councilor, a longtime, active Rotarian who leads that organization’s annual Golden Ticket fundraiser and currently serves as a board member for SKEF. Recently, Egli flew to California to pick up and drive back a mobile library for SKEF.
Egli thanked friends and family in accepting the award and recalled visiting Keizer before it was a city to eat at Fortune Cookie, a longtime restaurant serving Asian fare before it burned to the ground.
“I always thought is was a special thing and only found out later that my parents were Diner’s Club members and they offered 2-for-1,” Egli said.
After moving to the area, he said he found out quickly that the Keizer Way was “volunteer or move.”
“Keizer isn’t about a city or council or chamber, it’s about people,” Egli said.
Egli is an agent with R. Bauer Insurance.
Jackson, a third-generation owner of Jackson’s Body Shop, was introduced by Bob Shackelford, last year’s recipient of the Merchant of the Year Award.
Jackson is a seemingly constant presence at volunteer efforts in Keizer and Salem in addition to being a popular business owner, Shackelford said.
“I always hear people giving testimony about his business at Chamber gatherings,” said Shackelford. “(Larry) is always willing to be wherever there is an opportunity to help out.”
Jackson frequently assists with events planned by the Chamber’s Keizer Network of Women and Men of Action in Keizer as well as the Keizer Iris Festival and SKEF’s Crystal Apple Awards.
“I’m so blessed to be here. When you grow up in a city like Keizer, what else do you do? You volunteer, you show up when asked and when you don’t get asked,” said Jackson as he accepted the award.
Jason Flores, a longtime youth sports coach, booster and sponsor of local youth was honored with the Service to Education Award. It was presented by the daughters of Larry Smith, last year’s honoree who passed away two months after receiving it.
“Volunteers give their time, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless. They don’t necessarily have the time, they have the heart,” said Amy Campbell in introduced Flores. “(Jason) has coached in the Keizer community for more than 15 years. In addition, his passion for youth sports has taken him out on the water for one of his greatest passions, wake boarding. Each year he and his wife provide their boat and time to Wake the World, an opportunity for foster children and parent families to have a carefree day of play.”
Flores, through his personal time and business sponsorships as owner of Celtic Homes, has had a part in maintaining Keizer Little League Park, installing the turf at McNary High School, refurbishing the football/soccer scoreboard and led the effort to get new dugouts put in on the Celtic softball fields.
“I really don’t even understand why I’m here. I give all grace and glory to God and I’m just here to serve,” said Flores in accepting the award.
In recognizing Lawyer with the President’s Award, outgoing Keizer Chamber President Nate Bauer said Lawyer’s attitude is never “what’s in it for me.”
“He asks, ‘How can we come together and make it better for everyone?’ He’s one of the first to show up to plant trees at a park and one of the last to leave after a long night serving community dinners at St. Edward Catholic Church,” said Bauer.
Lawyer is currently active on three of the city’s advisory committees, parks, planning and Claggett Creek Watershed Council, and, like Jackson, can be spotted at most other volunteer efforts in the two-city area.
“He’s setting an example for his family and for all of us to be proud of,” said Bauer.
Lawyer was visibly surprised by the honor and his voice caught in his throat as he thanked his family for their support.
“I have so many mentors to thank, my adopted mom, Linda Baker, Mark Caillier, Bob Schackelford, Nigel Guissinger so many of you out there have made this possible. It’s about being the guy trying to help out,” Lawyer said.
Lawyer is a program coordinator at the Oregon Department of Aviation.