Every year, the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce recognizes individuals and businesses that go above and beyond expectations. On Sept. 19, a new group received their plaques for exceptional service to the community.
"We were just shy of 150 attendees," said Chamber Director Joe Krenowicz, "the largest turnout that we have had since I have been the executive director of the chamber."
Among the well-deserved awards was Senior Citizen of the Year, which went to a former longtime Jefferson County clerk, Elaine Henderson, who was not able to attend the event due to health issues, but was represented by her husband, Don, and son, Lonnie.
Presenting the award, Margee O'Brien, praised the time, effort and resources Henderson has put into the community. "The recipient this year has set the bar extremely high," she said.
Henderson serves as the secretary of the Lions Club and Relay For Life Committee, and treasurer of the Jefferson County Historical Society, and is very involved in the Metolius Friends Church.
Lonnie Henderson, who accepted the award with his father, Don, who has been married to Elaine for 67 years, commented, "She'd say there's someone who deserves this more than me."
Caren Smith presented the Volunteer of the Year award, noting, "This year's Volunteer of the Year is no stranger to doing whatever it takes to get the job done in and around Jefferson County."
Smith, the director of the Kids Club, pointed out that the award recipient, Jim Puddy, owner of Best Cleaners and Restoration, has lived in the community for about a decade, and volunteers his business and personal time assisting and supporting Kids Club by building sports equipment for kids, lobby furniture for staff, and chaperoning field trips.
Puddy "serves on various local boards, including the Madras Free Methodist Church Board, and as local business leader on the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, most recently as board vice president," she said.
In the winter, Smith said that you will find Puddy plowing driveways, "not just for local businesses, but for area senior citizens, teachers, and law enforcement."
Culver City Councilor Bart Carpenter presented the Public Servant of the Year award to Culver Mayor Nancy Diaz, who was "really, really shocked" by the award.
Carpenter said that Diaz managed the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for many years for the county, and more recently, set up a youth advisory council in Culver, to get young people involved in the community.
Diaz has also been a volunteer for the Jefferson County Fire Department, with her husband, Hilario, for many years.
"This is such an honor," said Diaz, recognizing the help provided by the council and her husband.
Louise Muir, director of the Jefferson County Senior Center, presented the award for Community Champion, who, she said, is a member of the VFW, and serves on the VFW Honor Guard, attending memorials for veterans.
"He served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War," said Muir. "He is active in his local church, serving on the church council as property manager. He is a CASA volunteer, advocating for children in the foster care program."
Muir said that several years ago, Rich Lohman started out as a substitute Meals on Wheels driver. "Now, he's the regular driver, even if he doesn't know it."
Lohman said simply, "I enjoy what I do, and that's why I do it."
Tena Jackson, the manager of Columbia Bank, presented a onetime award for Lifetime Community Impact award to Tom Brown, a former Madras city councilor, who, with his wife, Janet, has co-owned Coach Works Collision Repair since 1976, and Deschutes Adjusting Co. since 1986.
"Tom exemplifies community service," said Jackson. "The list of organizations he has volunteered for is long."
Besides coaching Little League, he has been involved in Boy Scout Troop 58, served on the Madras High School Site Council, organized the Madras Elks flag replacement and removal on holidays, and served on the Airshow of the Cascades Board of Directors since the early 2000s.
"Tom has also been involved in local government," she said. "Our communities are very important to him and he has given selflessly of his time to do what he can to make them a better place for all of us."
Accepting the award, Brown commented, "I'm proud of the community and the people who are here, and I'm proud to have made a little bit of difference."
The final award, Business of the Year, was presented by J.R. Brooks, co-owner of Identity Zone, to Brandon Searcy, owner of RipQ Signs and Graphics, which opened in July 2015.
"His work ethic is absolutely amazing, his attention to detail is impeccable," said Brooks, adding that Searcy is always willing to donate his time and talents to the community.
"He started out as a one-man show, worked hard and made it profitable," said Brooks. "Now, there are two employees — one, his wife, Amber."
Brandon Search, who was taken aback by the award, said, "I really appreciate this; it's completely unexpected."
In addition to the awards, attendees had dinner catered by Black Bear Diner, and listened to an update on the Pelton Round Butte hydro project.
"We were pleased to have Jamie Kind and Meghan Hill, from the PGE dam operation, give the presentation on the status of fisheries, recreation and power sustainability," said Krenowicz.
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