Taylor highlights award winners at First Citizen Banquet

Jim Taylor (middle) surrounded by friends and family after receiving the honor of Keizer First Citizen (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).  

As a local resident for more than 50 years, Jim Taylor has spent much of his life serving the Keizer community. On Saturday, Jan. 22, the former city councilor received a small token of gratitude from the town that he loves.

At the Keizer Chamber’s First Citizen Banquet, Taylor became the 61st member of the prestigious first citizens club, an honor he was humbled to receive.

“We are all a product of where we have been, what we have done and who we know, and I have been very fortunate to have really good friends in down years and good years. I have been surrounded by some wonderful people. I owe a great debt of thanks to everyone,” Taylor said.

Former Keizer First Citizen Hersch Sangster called Taylor “a role model” and a “Keizer hero.”

It would be hard to find someone that has spent more time giving back to the community than Taylor, who spent 12 years as a Keizer city councilor and 16 years volunteering with Keizer Little League. He also has been a Keizer Rotarian for over 30 years, spent more than a decade on the Parks Advisory board and had his hand in countless other projects.

“His whole life has been dedicated to making Keizer a better place and I think he has achieved that,” said local attorney Richard Walsh.

“All he has done in all the time that he has lived here is seek ways he could make it better,” added former Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher.

In addition to Taylor’s award, Danielle Bethell was given the Service to Education honor, Darrell Fuller was presented with the President’s Award, Dennis Blackman was tapped as Merchant of the Year and Logan Ready was honored as the first ever Future First Citizen.

Former state representative Bill Post was also honored during the ceremony.

Post served as a state representative for Keizer, St. Paul and Newberg for seven years before resigning in November 2021.

Former state representative Bill Post speaks to the crowd (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Post said that along with marrying his wife and raising their son, representing Keizer was the third greatest thing he has done in his life.

“Thank you for the privilege and the honor of serving you these last few years. It has been an awesome thing, and I appreciate you,” Post said.

Blackman, owner of Copper Creek Mercantile, was so choked up upon receiving recognition as Merchant of the Year, he had a hard time speaking.

“This is a real honor,” Blackman said “It’s been a great experience.”

Merchant of the Year Award winner Dennis Blackman (middle) poses for a photo with Miss Oregon recipients Sofia Boru (left) and Kellen Takenaka (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Blackman has been a business owner in Keizer for more than three decades. He hosts multiple local food carts in the Copper Creek Mercantile parking lot and has helped support local youth programs through uniform sponsorships, car washes and donut sales. He also helped organize food service to animals who had been rescued during the wildfires in September 2020.

“(Blackman) is the very definition of showing up for Keizer,” said Jonathan Thompson, the 2020 Merchant of the Year.

Similar to Blackman, Bethell also shed a few tears when she was surprised with the Service to Education honor.

Service to Education winner Danielle Bethell with her husband, Nathan, and her daughters, Natalie (left) and Raegan (right) (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

“It has been my deepest honor to be able to serve Keizer. As a kid, I had always hoped to be able to have a family. And I have that with my husband and three kids for sure. We are a tight-knit group that sticks together. But when I decided to really take on something, I knew I needed a community around me to do it. And Keizer welcomed me with open arms,” Bethell said. “I truly have a heart for kids, and I truly want to continue to serve every single one of them in whatever need or capacity they have.”

Supporting a tenacious “get-it-done” attitude, Bethell has served the community in a number of different ways over the years. As the president of the McNary Athletic Booster Club, Bethell was instrumental in McNary’s football turf project, along with building new softball dugouts and providing new wrestling mats and a new scoreboard at Flesher Field.

Along with hosting McNary Holiday Bazaars and the annual Blue Day, Bethell was the executive director of the Keizer Chamber for nearly five years. She is currently in her third year on the Salem-Keizer school board and serves alongside Colm Willis and Kevin Cameron as a Marion County commissioner.

“You’re an amazing human being. The Keizer community, Marion County and the state of Oregon are lucky to have you in their corner,” said Tammy Ready, the 2019 Service to Education recipient.

“You’re a pain in the butt, you are a wonderful human being, and I am so happy you are receiving this amazing award,” added former first citizen Joe Egli.

Despite being a lobbyist involved in Oregon politics for over 30 years, Fuller has always found time to volunteer in Keizer. After his house caught fire in 2007, Fuller was motivated to become a volunteer firefighter with Keizer Fire District.

President’s Award winner Darrell Fuller (left) gets welcomed to the stage by Bob Shackleford (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

He has also led numerous volunteer efforts at local churches and schools over the years, along with being involved in disaster relief efforts with the American Red Cross.

“The reason why I volunteer is primarily because I am really bad at golf. So when I became an empty-nester and realized I had some free time, it was either spend a lot of money on golf lessons, or find something useful to do in the community,” Fuller said with a smile. “I am a lobbyist. I talk for a living, so it’s rare for me to be speechless, but I find myself speechless.”

“Darrell is always that volunteer where if I make an email or a text, he’s there,” Keizer Chamber President Bob Shackleford added.

The Future First Citizen honor was presented in memory of former mayor and Keizer stalwart Dennis Koho, who passed away in 2019.

The recipient of the award, Logan Ready, son of Tammy Ready will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Koho family. Ready, a senior at McNary, plans to play football and baseball at Pacific Lutheran University and study business.

Along with playing football and baseball for McNary, Ready is a part of National Honor Society and has volunteered with Marion Polk Food Share and as a referee for local youth sporting events.

Future First Citizen recipient Logan Ready (left) with McNary Principal Erik Jespersen (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).   

The two other candidates, McNary seniors Miranda Coleman and Quinn Bach, each received a $500 scholarship.

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]