Tom Hyer named First Citizen

Tom Hyer, “Sweet Home’s own Paul Bunyan €“ a man with a big heart,” was named 2008 First Citizen Saturday night at the Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.

Hyer, a longtime logging firm owner in the area, was one of six individuals honored at the event, which drew 350 attendees at the Sweet Home High School Activity Gym.

Ron Moore was honored as Junior First Citizen; Kim Palmer was named Business and Professional Women’s Club Woman of the Year; Howard Drago, Elmer Riemer and Kenneth R. White were honored with Distinguished Service Awards; and Cascade Timber Consulting was named Business of the Year.

The program included the announcements of VIP awards to five individuals and two couples: Jane Strom, Scott McKee Jr., Michelle Swett, Don Ross, Norajean Lemar, Tim and Bonnie Healy and Bob and Rose Rice.

Sweet Home Community Foundation President Bob Burford announced 10 grants totaling approximately $20,000 to local organizations and Sweet Home Economic Development Group President Ron Moore announced that SHEDG is donating $30,000 to the foundation for next year’s grants.

VFW Post #3937 representatives provided a parade of colors and retirement of colors while Fir Lawn Lutheran Church choir director Herb Gustafson led the singing of the national anthem before participants feasted on a roast chicken dinner.

Tom Hyer, First Citizen

Last year’s First Citizen Chuck Thompson listed numerous ways that Hyer, the retired owner of G&H Logging, has contributed to the community.

“Whether removing shaky trees at Sankey Park or shoring up the covered bridge for the opening of the Jamboree, grading in a new road to Gilliland Cemetery or building a baseball field, he is your man,” Thompson said. “The Boys and Girls Club might still be unfinished if it weren’t for the work he put in prepping the site. Little Promises thanks him for their road and parking lot work. He not only contributes his time and equipment, he contributes generously from his logging dollars.”

Thompson likened Hyer to Paul Bunyan, though he said Hyer “wore out Babe the Blue Ox and replaced him with a Kubota.”

He told how, in December 1975, Hyer and his logging crew were working near Cool Camp in 3 feet of snow.

“It was slow, cold going, but no one wanted to quit because this was Christmas pay,” Thompson said. “It was lunch time and snowing hard when our man came along, seeing the guys huddled and cold. He turned to the timekeeper and said, ‘Pay these guys for eight hours and send them home.'”

Thompson also noted how Hyer is generous providing seasoned firewood to elderly folks in need.

“This log splitter would put Abe Lincoln to shame,” he said.

Hyer observed how others in his family (his sister and brother-in-law Mona and Bob Waibel) have received the award.

“I’m a little bit overwhelmed but I’m not the first in my family to receive this, I assure you,” he told the crowd. “But I don’t remember telling that timekeeper that.”

Ron Moore, Junior First Citizen

Preenter Steve Thorpe said he was “shocked” to be named Junior First Citizen last year “because I received an award for doing what we as Sweet Homers do.

“It is what has been modeled before me by so many people since I was a young boy to where I am now. We work in our community. We coach and mentor. We help those in times of need. It is what makes me proud to call Sweet Home my home.”

He said that Moore has engaged in all those activities, including coaching and sitting on committees and making decisions “that are not always easy,” chairing SHEDG, volunteering with the Oregon Jamboree, serving on the Traffic Safety Board, serving as president of the Sweet Home Boys and Girls Club and playing an “integral” role in that organization’s fund-raising efforts; and participating in the Sweet Home Rotary Club.

“He makes sure when there is a need in this community it is met,” Thorpe said. “I have personally had some of my wrestlers benefit from his generosity when earning money to go to the national tournament.”

Moore said he has simply followed the example of service set by his own grandfather, who died last fall and whom he remembered with emotion, his parents, and such people as Larry Blem.

“They were good men. They taught me a lot,” he said.

“There have been a lot of people before me, a lot of people who probably deserve this award.”

Howard Drago,

Distinguished Service Award

Chamber board member Billie Weber said that there were so many nominations for distinguished service this year “that it was almost impossible to make a decision.”

She said that the votes kept coming back for three leading nominees, so chamber officials decided to make three awards.

Drago, she said, has served for years at the Elks Lodge, “from handing out candy, which he buys himself, at Halloween to helping get things for the Christmas party for the kids.”

She noted that he is a Past Exalted Ruler, Life Member, past Elk of the Year, serves as president of the Past Exalted Rulers Association, chairman of the Board of Trustees, chairman of the Veterans Association and serves on the investigating committee for new members.

She told how one Elks member reported that “the last time I was cleaning up for an event I was told to send the last batch of dishes down and go home.

“‘Howard will be here in the morning and he finishes up the dishes,'” Weber said the member was told.

Drago also serves many positions at St. Helens Catholic Church and in the Knights of Columbus. He takes weekly donations to battered women’s shelters in Portland and donations of clothing to the veterans hospitals in Portland and Roseburg. He served as Chamber of Commerce president in the 1980s and received a Distinguished Service Award in 1982.

Drago, who is 90, said he appreciated the award.

“I don’t deserve it but I will receive it,” he said.

Elmer Riemer,

Distinguished Service Award

A retired Safeway manager, Riemer is a “realistic dreamer” who served as a board member of SHEDG and has volunteered with the Oregon Jamboree for 13 years, said Weber, who also presented this award.

“For the past 11 years he has delivered ice to all the booths and workers at the Oregon Jamboree,” she said. “He is there at least four days, working every day from morning to late evening, working with vendors (on the day before the festival starts) and on the other three days he is riding around and delivering ice.”

Riemer also supervises the vendors at the Jamboree.

She said he has served since 1993 on the board of directors for the local Ambulance District and then for the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District, serving most recently as secretary/treasurer. He has helped the districts pass a number of bond levies, most recently a $1.8 million bond for four pieces of equipment.

He also volunteers at Oak Heights School, where his son-in-law Keith Winslow is principal, and in a wide variety of roles at Sweet Home Evangelical Church, particularly in the Christmas tree sales lot, which raises money for local needy people.

A past Kiwanis member who retired from that organization when he retired from Safeway, he served in a wide variety of roles and efforts with the Kiwanians.

“This man is a doer,” Weber said.

Riemer, noting that he has lived in Sweet Home since 1963, said, “I can’t even remember not living here.

“This is our community and we love it very much,” he said.

Kenneth R. White, Distinguished Service Award

Master of Ceremonies Tom Scrivner, who manages one of the divisions of White’s Electronics, introduced White, who he said, runs a corporation that doesn’t use products made overseas.

“His personal philosophy is ‘Buy Sweet Home first, Linn/Benton County second, Oregon third, and always the U.S.A.,'” Scrivner said. “This brings millions of dollars to our community, sometimes at a personal financial cost to him.

Scrivner recounted a long list of organizations and events to which White has contributed resources, including the Oregon Jamboree, Sweet Home Rodeo, Sweet Home High School football, the Veterans and Elks clubs, Rotary, 4-H, Boys and Girls Club activities, the high school equestrian team, local churches, youth sports, law enforcement, the Oregon National Guard in Iraq, the Sweet Home Rock and Gem Show, the Singing Christmas Tree and the South Santiam Fish Hatchery.

“The world would be a much better place if we all followed the fine example of selfless care for others that (White) exemplifies,” Scrivner said. “I will always cherish my relationship with this recipient and I will continue to return to him for inspiration, again and again.”

White, clearly taken aback, said “after something like that, I don’t know what I could follow with.”

But he said he credited his parents, “who started with nothing and worked long hours most of their adult lives” for where he is today.

Kim Palmer,

BPW Woman of the Year

Ronda Scrivner introduced Palmer because last year’s BPW winner, Leita Seiber-Barr is nursing a broken arm, Weber said.

Scrivner said Palmer is “the unsung hero that goes quietly on her way to help make the events in Sweet Home happen. From the Christmas and Sportsman’s Holiday parades to helping the Chamber of Commerce, she is always there to lend a hand.”

Scrivner said Palmer, a single mother who put herself through college, is a “driving force” behind the local BPW and is state president this year.

She also helped found a Cub Scout troop so her son could get involved in Scouts.

At Fir Lawn Lutheran Church, she acts as a worship assistant to the pastor, serves on the Church Council, prepares Christmas baskets for the less fortunate, and serves as what church members call the “Church Bus Lady,” picking up older and disabled church members and ferrying them to and from services.

“She is a friend whom I truly love and admire for her selfless and often random acts of kindness,” Scrivner said. “I truly respect her ‘shoot-the-moon’ attitude and abilities.

“We are sure that when this night is over, she will launch one of those stellar efforts that we have seen her mastermind and execute so proficiently.”

Palmer said she doesn’t seek attention for her activities.

“I don’t think about it, I just do it,” she said.

Cascade Timber Consulting, Business of the Year

Chamber President Dave Bauer, whose Steelhead Strength and Fitness was named last year’s Business of the Year honoree, listed CTC employees who have been named to various chamber awards: Jack Barringer, Milt Moran, Dave Furtwangler, Larry Blem and Ben Masengil.

He said CTC “holds a very strong foundation in this town. Their employees have shown a dedication that flows beyond the gates of the job and into the town that supports them.”

The award was CTC’s third in the Business of the Year category.

“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of these employees, past and present, and it’s no wonder why they’ve received this award before,” Bauer said.

Furtwangler accepted the honor, crediting his employees.

“This is a tribute to all our employees at CTC, as well as the great contractors we work with,” he said.

VIP Award Winners

Mona Waibel and Alice Grovom presented the awards on behalf of the President’s Club.

Jane Strom was honored for her work in the Kiwanis Club, in which she is a past president and former lieutenant governor of the Northwest region.

“She takes on large projects without a blink of an eye,” Grovom said.

Strom and her husband Dave have co-chaired the annual Squarenaders Turkey Dance, feeding a couple of hundred dancers at the event. She has also appeared as Mrs. Santa Claus at the singing Christmas Tree. A tree farmer, she belongs to the Small Woodlands Association and the Cattlemen’s Association.

Grovom particularly recognized Strom, who is a former teacher, for her work in chairing the fund-raising effort to create the Sweet Home Skateboard Park.

Scott McKee Jr. was recognized for his work in crowd management at the Oregon Jamboree and as a member of the Sweet Home Rodeo Board of Directors. McKee is also a member of the Sweet Home City Council, also serving on the Parks Board, Tree Commission and Budget Committee. He also has been a planning commissioner and volunteers at a charter school.

Tim and Bonnie Healy were honored for their work with Sweet Home Emergency Ministries (SHEM) and the MANNA program, through which they distribute food to local needy people. Grovom noted that Bonnie Healy makes baby quilts that are given out by the Sweet Home Police Department. The couple also volunteer in the city beautification program, “planting and trimming,” cleaning up White’s Park and Clover Memorial Park each week. They also help elderly residents by cleaning roofs and gutters and doing yard work.

Grovom said she often sees the Healys out walking, lugging a trash bag to pick up litter.

“They seem to be everywhere,” she said.

Michelle Swett was recognized for her volunteer work in accounting with the Oregon Jamboree, and the Boys and Girls Club Auction. A Sweet Home High School graduate and longtime resident of the community, Swett is “good with dollars,” Waibel said.

She has also helped decorate trees for the Sweet Home Alumni Foundation’s Christmas Tree Auction, is responsible for bringing in Lottery scholarships for high school seniors, and has volunteered at the high school, teaching students to manage their finances.

Swett has also coached softball for the Boys and Girls Club, and has been recognized by Beta Sigma Phi for her work in helping the needy.

She works as a manager at Linn-Co Federal Credit Union, training tellers for all Linn-Co branches.

Don Ross was honored for his work throughout the community, most recently in teaching art to local school children.

“This full-of-pep individual has been teaching our town about art,” Grovom said. “He displays his art any time someone asks and he has art here tonight.”

She noted that Ross never declines when asked for help and is tireless in promoting the community.

“In fact, he is an advocate of anything for the good of our town,” Grovom said. “All the way from Sprouse Reitz (which Ross used to manage) in Santiam Shopping Center to here. You are truly a great guy.”

Norajean Lemar was recognized for her extensive activity in the community. A senior at Sweet Home High School, Lemar “is a competitive teenager who likes volunteering,” Grovom said.

Lemar has been a swimmer since age 5 and was a competitive dancer at 3. As a Girl Scout, she volunteered as a singer in local nursing homes and has played in the pep band at athletic events. She is an honor roll student and has earned letters in band, water polo and swimming. She has served as a lifeguard at the pool and as a teacher for special-needs students.

She also volunteers with the Bloodmobile, writes for the student newspaper and yearbook, is secretary of the Key club, sings in the Singing Christmas Tree and volunteers at the Oregon Jamboree.

In her spare time, Lemar volunteers at Foster School in the after-school program and the Outdoor Program.

“Children and education are her dream,” Grovom said, adding that Lemar hopes to become a teacher in Sweet Home.

Bob and Rose Rice were honored for their generosity to local youth and logging causes over the years.

The Holley residents run a logging firm “that is generous to the community, especially helping young people,” Waibel said. Rice Logging, their company, has sponsored the Working Loggers Relay at the Sportman’s Holiday for 20 years €“€¯and has won the event several times. It has also loaned equipment “for many projects.”

“Rice Logging gave generously to the Sweet Home High School Forestry Program, with equipment and funds,” Waibel added.