Bob Dalton, Juan Ulep lead honorees at awards banquet

Bob Dalton was named Sweet Home’s First Citizen Saturday night at the Chamber of Commerce’s 66th Annual Awards Banquet while Juan Ulep was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for his extensive efforts to assist the needy, in Sweet Home and beyond.

They were among 13 individuals or groups who received recognition for their service to the community.

The event, held at the Sweet Home High School Activity Gymnasium, drew close to 300 people, who dined on a traditional American menu of oven-fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans, cornbread, biscuits and apple or berry cobbler served by Denim and Pearls Catering.

Mayor Craig Fentiman, in welcoming the attendees, noted that Sweet Home “is indeed fortunate to have many dedicated volunteers who contribute to the good of the community. We are here this evening to acknowledge and recognize those volunteers of the community who help make Sweet Home the best that it can be.”

The program included what has become the traditional passing of a check from Oregon Jamboree proceeds to the Sweet Home Community Foundation, this year by Sweet Home Economic Development Group President Kevin Strong to Foundation President Bob Burford.

Strong said that the Jamboree has become more challenging with rising costs of talent, the economic downturn and competition from another copycat music festival. The Jamboree has been able to attract superstar Keith Urban this year, whose stops on his summer tour include “Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Sweet Home.”

“The key reason for this is the commitment and dedication of volunteers who care about our community and have built the Oregon Jamboree into the premier country music and camping festival in the Pacific Northwest,” Strong said, to loud applause from the crowd.

Most of the $20,000 donation has already been promised as grants to nine organizations in the Sweet Home area for a variety of charitable purposes.

The colors were presented by members of VFW Post 3437; the Pledge of Allegiance was led by SHHS Student Body President Andrew Winslow; and the national anthem was sung by Taylar Rodgers, also of SHHS. The Rev. Fred J. Anthony of St. Helen’s Catholic Church gave the invocation and dinner prayer and the Rev. Joseph Medley of Fir Lawn Lutheran Church gave the benediction.

Dalton was introduced by last year’s First Citizen Tom Hyer, who listed the honoree’s multiple contributions to Sweet Home since his graduation from SHHS in 1973 and taking a job at Willamette Industries.

Hyer told how Dalton built floats and pulled them on a Willamette truck in parades in the 1980s, how he served on the SHEDG board and SHHS Alumni boards, helped with the Decorated Christmas Tree Auction, planned and carried out a variety of building improvement and fund-raising projects at Little Promises Day Care and Sunshine Industries and served on the boards of both organizations, and a variety of other volunteer activities.

“This gent is good at rustling up workers and supplies,” Hyer said, noting that Dalton arranged for Knife River to donate and pour cement for a slab at Sunshine.

Karyn Hartsook was introduced as Junior First Citizen by Ron Moore, last year’s winner. Moore said Hartsook learned from her “parents and grandparents that volunteering is the root of any great community” and who has been involved in the community all her life.

Moore said Hartsook has been active in her church, her children’s school, the Boys and Girls Club, on the chamber board, in the grass-roots effort that resulted in SHARE, and started up a Daisy Scouts that previously didn’t exist in Sweet Home

“because it was something important to her daughter” €“ all the while running her own Farmers Insurance office for the past six years. Hartsook and her husband Brad have three children, with another on the way.

“It’s obvious that family and community are important to this individual,” Moore said. He said friends describe Hartsook as “someone who thinks spending quality time with family is the single most important thing, and is always looking for ways to improve in both family and business.”

Elmer Riemer, representing his fellow winners from last year, Howard Drago and Kenneth White, introduced Ulep as Distinguished Service honoree.

He noted that Ulep, who grew up in the Philippines and served in both the Filipino and U.S. armies, the latter for 21 years, earned two college degrees after having to quit school in the fourth grade to serve in World War II.

Ulep has organized efforts to develop 10 wells that have benefited more than 10,000 people in rural Filipino villages, Riemer said. Ulep also has spearheaded efforts by the Rotary Club, to which he belongs, that have resulted in the gathering of tons of textbooks, medical and dental equipment and hospital supplies, enough to fill 40-foot cargo containers for the needy in his native village in the Philippines.He has also traveled to Russia with the Friendship Force, helping to teach English to children.

“Our honoree exemplifies the Rotary Club motto of “Service Above Self,” Riemer said.

Dave Furtwangler of Cascade Timber Consulting, last year’s Business of the Year, introduced the 2009 Business of the Year as Fox Run LLC, two restaurant businesses operated by Brad and Amy Newport.

Amy Newport, who was also named a VIP Award winner for her “involvement in Sweet Home that was really appreciated,” was ill and unable to attend and husband Brad arrived in jeans and a T-shirt after being summoned from their pizza parlor, leaving a single 18-year-old employee running the place, to accept the awards and then return to work.

Brad Newport told the crowd he tends to take too much credit for their accomplishments, which include significantly improving the appearance of several buildings in town and establishing several new businesses in the downtown area in the last few years, including Mr. Lucky’s Deli, which has become a popular lunch spot, and the new All-Star Pizza restaurant next door.

“The No. 1 person I’d like to thank is my wife,” Newport said. “She’s a great planner. Mr. Lucky’s was pretty much all her redesign and rebuilding.”

Newport said later that he also wanted to give credit to Dan Wolfe, who has provided assistance to the couple in several of their projects.

“Without his help, we couldn’t have started All-Star Pizza,” Newport said. “We couldn’t have cleaned up Econowash,” referring to the laundry at the corner of Pleasant Valley Road and Main Street that the couple purchased and refurbished after the death of the former owner.

BPW Woman of the Year Lerena Ruby, who was introduced by last year’s winner, Kimberly Palmer, was also named a VIP honoree.

Palmer called Ruby, who operates the Seamingly Creative sewing and fabric shop, a “little dynamo” who “works relentlessly for our community, serving on the chamber board, on SHARE and SHEDG, and as a member of the VFW and AmVets auxiliary.

“When she is not mending uniforms for everyone from the Police and Fire Department to the high school band, she is gathering donations for the Chamber events,” Palmer said, noting that “most of the door prizes tonight were gathered by our friend.” She added that Ruby is present at “all chamber events.”

VIP Awards presenter Mona Waibel called Ruby “a savvy business woman who has sewn her way into a fine, established business.

“We are pleased with your help in making Sweet Home a nice place to shop and quilt,” she told Ruby

Waibel and Ben Dahlenburg presented four other VIP awards.

Rick Burnett was honored for his efforts as a volunteer at the Sweet Home Rodeo and the Oregon Jamboree, for his service as a youth soccer coach.

Nancy Patton was recognized for organizing everything from “musical performances to tributes to patriotic citizens €“ she can do it all,” Dahlenburg said. Patton, who helped select new SHEDG Economic Development Director Brian Hoffman, also chairs the SHARE Marketing and Promotions Committee and “whether it is beauty contest or a real difficult sale, Nancy Patton knows how to make it all work together,” he said. “She is the epitome of what volunteers can do.”

Waibel presented a VIP award to local vocal trio Praise in 3D €“ George, Cliff and David Dominy, who “pop up as often as popcorn in a cooker,” performing at downtown events, the Rodeo, previous chamber awards dinners and “numerous other events that make Sweet Home special.”

Dahlenburg presented Larry and Susan Angland with a VIP award for their efforts in founding the Sweet Home Sweet Ride 4 Kids Car Show and their efforts on behalf of the Kiwanis Club, which they joined after moving to Sweet Home three years ago.

The Anglands, clearly surprised by the award, were on the program to hand out the inaugural Sweet Home Sweet Ride 4 Kids Award, which they proceeded to give to the Kiwanis Club, which put on last year’s show.

“I’ve been a witness of love in action here in Sweet Home,” Susan Angland said, saying the Kiwanis Club was where they first saw it played out. “If Larry and I had known what a blessing being part of a service organization could be, especially to our marriage, we would have joined years ago.”

The other award presented was the inaugural Boys and Girls Club Sponsor of the Year Award to Rice Logging, which has helped the club in a myriad of ways, both financial and practical.

“These folks, when we need something, they’re there,” Moore said.