Hersch Sangster (right) was accompanied on stage by his family after being presented with the Keizer First Citizen award during a banquet held Saturday, Jan. 17 at Keizer Civic Center.

In introducing Keizer’s newest First Citizen, Vickie Jackson, who was honored with the award last year, said, “this award is for a person in our community working to make it a better place. They aren’t doing it because they want recognition, they don’t want this award and, when they get it, they feel like they’ve been caught … He got caught.”

The community pillar ensnared this year was Hersch Sangster. 

Sangster’s contributions to the Keizer community include leadership in school-based parent groups, the McNary Athletic Booster Club, a tireless advocacy for rights of cyclists and cycling safety, and traffic safety in general among much more. 

“It’s an overwhelming honor, but don’t catch me again, please,” said Sangster in accepting the award. 

If there is a cycling event in Keizer, Sangster and wife, Mary Ann, are likely leading it. If a child in Keizer has received a free helmet, there is a good chance that the Sangsters were the ones checking for proper fit. 

After joining the Rotary Club of Keizer, Sangster organized a Ride to End Polio as a local effort contributing to a global goal on the part of Rotary. He was a champion of having a bike repair station installed at the Keizer Civic Center, and has plans for another. His big project in the coming years is to replace the bike racks at McNary High School – the ones on campus now are the same ones he hitched his bikes to when he was a student there. Sangster is so synonymous with cycling in Keizer that former Keizer mayor Lore Christopher appeared in a tribute video sporting a bicycle helmet. 

Cycling might be a passion, but Sangster has been a member and chair of the Keizer Planning Commission, Keizer’s voice on the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study and a member of the Oregon Traffic Safety Commission. 

“Hersch is the right choice because he is a longtime advocate for the city. He is the guy that gets thing done and makes things happened,” said Matt Lawyer, a former colleague of Sangster on the planning commission. 

“Hersch serves our community with dedication, enthusiasm generosity and kindness,” said current Mayor Cathy Clark. “He’s put heart and soul into everything he’s done.”

In addition to crowning a new first citizen, Dave Walery was tapped as Merchant of the Year, Tammy Ready was presented the Service to Education Award and Jeremy Turner was honored with the President’s Award. 

Dave Walery of Walery’s Pizza accepted Merchant of the Year honors.

Walery, owner of Walery’s Premium Pizza in West Salem, was nominated by his employees at the restaurant. The typically gruff Walery was holding back tears when he found out who nominated him. When he took the stage, he called out the many members in the audience who were part of his “team” of volunteers. 

“I think there are more people in this room who are on it than those who aren’t,” he said. 

Walery is a driving force behind almost every Christmas-related event in Keizer, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Christmas” around town. He has also been one of the lead organizers of the annual KeizerFEST for several years. Walery is a former first citizen himself and a two-time recipient of the President’s Award. 

Tammy Ready was honored with the Service to Education award.

Tammy Ready was moved to tears when her name was announced as the recipient of the Service to Education Award. Ready is a consistent presence in conversations about providing for McNary students and athletes and a regular presenter in the school’s College and Career Center. 

“Danielle Bethell is the reason I got started volunteering in Keizer. When people ask me why I volunteer so much, my answer is, ‘Why don’t you?’” Ready said. “Volunteering is one thing you can always do no matter what. Time is what matters.”

Jeremy Turner was given the President’s Award.

Jeremy Turner, owner of J. Turner Solutions, was selected by Keizer Chamber President Jonathan Thompson to receive this year’s President’s Award. 

Thompson cited Turner for his willingness to step up and fill needs regardless of the challenges at hand, whether it’s repairing a garden at the Keizer branch of the Boys & Girls Club or moving 14 barrels of donated food – on a single trailer – to a sorting station. 

“I hope that I contribute enough to the community. It was great to come here five years ago and just jump in,” Turner said. 

Attendees at the annual First Citizen Banquet received a red carpet welcome.

Tasha Walery with Cooper Cripe and Marsha Stallings.

Members of the McNary Contemporary Music Program provided entertainment for the evening.

Daphne and Shelby Boucher with Shelby Coshow.

Karee and Brody Pack with Victoria Goesch.