Chamber honors local citizens with community awards
Amidst the backdrop of historic airplanes, several outstanding Jefferson County folks were honored for rising above adversity and taking leadership for the betterment of the community during the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.
The chamber hosted the annual celebration at the Erickson Aircraft Collection hangar on Thursday evening, Oct. 21.
"The board said we're going to do it and get back to normalcy," said Chamber Director Joe Krenowicz of the decision to hold an in-person banquet, which 82 locals attended. Black Bear Diner catered the buffet dinner, New Basin Distillery offered a no-host bar, and Krenowicz was emcee.
The 2021 Senior Citizen of the Year award is presented to the individual who extends their time, effort and resources to the senior community of Jefferson County with levels of care, advancement and concern afforded for all.
Vietnam veteran Shawn Stanfill earned the award for taking the leadership in building the Veteran Healing Memorial at the Jefferson County Community Center.
Jefferson County Commissioner Wayne Fording said Stanfill started the project anticipating a few weekends and some help from friends and some donations from the community, but then it grew and kept growing.
"As a combat vet, he did not let the project waiver," Fording said of Stanfill's commitment to the project.
Stanfill's purpose in building the memorial is to prevent suicide, especially among veterans.
"We have a job to do, and that job is to simply save 22 a day. That's how many fly away by their own hand," Stanfill said.
Angela Rhodes earned the 2021 Community Champion of the Year award in appreciation for the positive energy and impacts she has brought to the downtown business core through the Madras Downtown Association.
Krenowicz said money can do a lot of things, but an organization also needs a leader to take that lead and jump on it and make something happen. Rhodes has been instrumental in several downtown activities and improvements.
"The solid leader has made a big difference on what's going on," Krenowicz said of the downtown Madras activities.
Jenniffer Grant earned the 2021 Volunteer of the Year award in appreciation for her personal extension of helping others help themselves.
"This woman is involved in absolutely everything in our community," Amber Searcy said of Grant.
Grant has volunteered with the Our Community in the Park Event, Relay For Life, Camp Eagle Cap, and Life Lemons Charitie Organization among other projects. She is also assisting with the Jobs for Life program through the local prison.
"I'm truly honored to be part of this community," Grant said, adding that it's an honor for her to serve others. "Today is a new day and tomorrow is not promised, so celebrate the gift of today and be better today than you were yesterday."
The chamber and Jefferson County School District 509-J created a new award, Champion for Children, to honor 509-J Board Chair Laurie Danzuka for her passion for children's education, health and safety in the district.
School board member Jamie Hurd asked the 80-some chamber banquet guests to stand if they have heard about some of the strides the district has made during Danzuka's 12 years on the board, including increased graduation rates, investments in career and technical education, new facilities, and new Native American curriculum.
"We need so many more leaders like Laurie," said Tom Norton Jr., who served on the board for 12 years. He said Danzuka always does what is best for all kids in the district, even if it isn't easy.
Danzuka said her uncle encouraged her to run for the school board.
"He made a comment to me that it was the hardest work I was ever going to do and never get thanked, and being recognized like this is really meaningful," Danzuka said. "The work we do is heart work because it's about kids, it's about families, it's about doing what's best for them, no matter what."
Jefferson County Sheriff Marc Heckathorn earned the 2021 Public Servant of the Year award in recognition of his leadership within the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and enhancements of protective services for the Jefferson County communities.
When presenting the award, Tammy Gregory said Heckathorn has obtained multiple agency awards, several state certifications and was chosen to attend the FBI National Academy in Virginia. He was instrumental in developing the 911 Frontier Alert notification system, implemented the Citizens Academy, and recently earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
"We have been very fortunate to have him as a long-time resident and a committed leader in our law enforcement community in Jefferson County," Gregory said.
This is Heckathorn's 25th year in law enforcement. As sheriff, he said, he gets to implement the things that he's wanted to do for a long time.
Louise Muir presented the Business of the Year award to Black Bear Diner owners Joe and Nancy Davis in appreciation for their support of local events, youth programs, senior citizens and veterans in Jefferson County.
"Even after establishing the notoriety for top customer service, a place to gather with friends and a traveler's preferred stop for premium meals, Joe and Nancy continue with this business and their business principles and practices as if they were in the first year of business," Muir said.
She noted that during the challenging last 18 months, they have donated meals for various community groups and helped with food preparation for senior citizens.
"It is our pleasure to serve this community, a community that we all love," Joe Davis said.
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