Dave Gillott, Jenni Grove named to top chamber honors


By Scott Swanson
Lebanon Local

Jenni Grove, left, receives her award for Woman of the Year, presented to her by Betty Schmidt.

Jenni Grove and Dave Gillott were named Lebanon’s Woman and Man of the Year during the Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Service Awards Banquet March 6 at Boulder Falls Event Center.
They were among some two dozen local individuals and groups who were honored for public service and contributions to the community over the past year.
Dala Johnson was named Senior First Citizen and Chris Meek was awarded Junior First Citizen.
Despite some empty seats, new chamber Executive Director Rebecca Grizzle said the event was a sell-out.
The “Black and White”-themed dinner included a slide show honoring the late Shelly Garrett, Grizzle’s predecessor, set to the “Toy Story” movie theme “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” which had some attendees wiping their eyes.
“This is the first DSA in over 20 years that we do not have Shelly Garrett with us,” Grizzle noted.
Gillott received his Man of the Year award from Tre Kennedy, the 2017 Man of the Year honoree, who stood in for last year’s winner Nick Brooks, who has moved to Washington.
“Nick Brooks simply decided he’d reached the pinnacle, Man of the Year, and there was nothing else he could do in Lebanon,” Kennedy joked, before making the presentation.
He described Gillott as someone who was described in multiple nomination letters as someone who is always there to help, who is commonly known to approach with these words: “What can I do to help?”
Kennedy quoted some of the comments the chamber received in connection with Gillott’s nomination:
“He has helped me so many ways;” “He’s the first to lend a hand whenever there’s a need;” “There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for someone in need.”

Dala Johnson receives the First Senior Citizen Award from presenter Dr. Robert Wimmer.

He said Gillott, who was the youngest of 12 children, born in a car on the way to the hospital and who moved to Lebanon when he was in grade school and never really left after that, was his own son’s favorite teacher.
Among many other contributions, Gillott has started a summer book club for local children and a bicycle safety program at Cascade Elementary School. Even though he hasn’t been a coach, Gillott would show up at his students’ games to cheer them on, Kennedy said.
Kennedy read comments from Brooks, who said his own son, who is now a second-year student at West Point, was thrilled that Gillott was chosen for the honor.
“He’s loved by the youth of Lebanon,” Brooks wrote. “People like him make Lebanon the place it is and that’s why we’ll be back.”
Emcee Scott Ingalls told the crowd he could attest to Gillott’s generous spirit, relating how he once needed to bury a goat and called Gillott, who showed up 20 minutes later with a backhoe on a trailer to get the job done.
The Woman of the Year award was presented by last year’s recipient, Betty Schmidt, who noted that winners do not have a chance to say much at the DSA, so she took the opportunity to thank the community for choosing her last year.
Schmidt then listed descriptions offered by people who nominated Grove for the award: “a servant’s heart,” “an inspiration to others,” “a fearless leader,” “a positive attitude,” “honest and good,” “very hard-working.”
“This year’s winner has so many wonderful qualities, I could go on and on,” Schmidt said, noting that Grove started a monthly networking luncheon for local professional women, directs her church choir, represents the chamber in a variety of ways and puts on a local Alzheimer’s Walk through her employer, the Oaks at Lebanon, along with being heavily involved in the Strawberry Festival.
Schmidt said she “could go on and on about the wonderful qualities” Grove brings to the community.

Chris Meek takes a look at his award for Junior First Citizen, presented by Jennifer Larsen.

“When she’s working with groups and people, she always makes sure everybody feels included,” Schmidt added, repeating comments made earlier in the evening when she presented Grove with another award, Ambassador of the Year for the chamber.
Last year’s Senior First Citizen, Dr. Robert Wimmer, presented the award to this year’s winner, Dala Johnson.
Johnson, a community service officer for the Lebanon Police Department, contributes “countless” volunteer hours in the community, to the Strawberry Festival, Holidays in the Park, National Night Out, summer concerts, Shop with a Cop, spearheading downtown cleanup activities, and instituting a Police Department program to help youngsters struggling with behavioral or learning issues.
Johnson is also president of the Optimist Club and a member of the Strawberrians, in addition to founding and heading Dala’s Blue Angels, who combat child abuse, including the organization of the Walk a Mile for a Child event.
Jennifer Larson, last year’s Junior First Citizen, presented this year’s award to Chris Meek.
She said it was hard to select a winner from the nominees, which “makes me so proud of being a part of this awesome community.”
Meek, she said, has been an “outstanding” citizen since his days at Lebanon High School and, since returning to Lebanon after living elsewhere as a young adult, has made many contributions to the community and built an “outstanding business operation.”
Meek is a Patsy and Bud Page Leadership Award winner, a past president of the Optimists, for whom he worked to bring the national convention to Lebanon, and is a former Toastmaster and former chamber board member.
He also acted in last year’s murder mystery at Willamette Manor, “Murder at the Pie Auction.”

Mary Garner, left, was honored with the Frankie Gray “Answering the Call” Award, presented by Rebecca Grizzle.

Other awards presented were:

♦ Umpqua Bank Nonprofit of the Year – Lebanon Strawberry Festival, which was presented a $500 check by the bank.
♦ Frankie Gray “Answering the Call” Award – Mary Garner. Garner, a longtime chamber employee, kept the organization operating after the Garrett’s death early last year, until Grizzle, who is Garner’s younger sister, was named executive director.
“Despite her personal loss and grieving, Mary stepped up to the task, taking on many additional roles,” Grizzle said in announcing the award, which Garner thought was going to someone else. “If there was ever an embodiment of answering the call, this was it.” She noted that Garner was known for such dedication long before Garrett’s death.
♦ Lebanon Chamber Business Leader for 2019 – Paula Newman. Grizzle said Newman, owner of Schmizza Pizza, brings “her hands, a smile and engaging personality to activities throughout Lebanon “over many years.”
♦ Chamber Volunteer of the Year – Sharon Hails. Grizzle said Hails has a “giant heart for the community” and took days off work to fill in when it became apparent that Garrett was too ill to participate in last spring’s Biz Expo. She later took more days off to help out with the golf tournament and in the office. “It’s possible she will learn to say no,” Grizzle joked.
♦ Large Business of the Year – The Oaks at Lebanon. Grizzle cited the retirement and assisted living facility’s community outreach and contributions to the chamber, presenting the award to Grove, who is marketing director for the Oaks, and leading the crowd in the recitation of the slogan Grove repeats during introductions at chamber events: “Where we engage life and have a heck of a lotta fun.”
♦ Small Business of the Year – MBVA Building. Grizzle said owners Mike and Becky Van Atta “hit the scene in Lebanon” by remodeling the historic building, creating collaborative office space and meeting areas that are open to the public, as well as “a considerable window display.”
♦ Grizzle also recognized the chamber’s ambassadors, whom she described as “workhorses – things would not happen without these people,” and cornerstone partners, “the legs of the table that hold the chamber up.”
“I can’t say enough about these businesses and their support of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce.”
She presented a special recognition plaque to last year’s chamber board President Helen Nelson, who, she said, led the board through a “particularly tough year” after the death of Garrett, who carried “a lot of information in her head.”
“We had a dedicated, smart president who figured things out,” Grizzle said.
Community awards were also presented to honor members, volunteers, board members and staff of various nonprofits and local organizations.

The Lebanon Strawberry Festival Board presents a check to the City for further development of Cheadle Park.

Honorees included:

♦ Carmella Martinez, a Lebanon High School sophomore who was honored for the time she spends at Willamette Manor retirement and care facility during the past six months, visiting with residents on Wednesday afternoons, which are early-release days at the high school.
♦ Rotarian of the Year Ken Hayworth.
♦ Strawberry Festival Board Member of the Year Cindy Ongers and Sponsor of the Year Entek.
Cindy Kerby of the Strawberry Festival Board of Directors also announced that the organization was donating $100,000 to the city to fund further development of Cheadle Lake Park, which originated as a Strawberry Festival project.
Strawberry Festival officials also announced that the Strawberry Festival was named the 2019 Festival of the Year by the Oregon Festivals and Events Association, noting that the local event was “up against the Rose Festival, the Oregon Jamboree. This was a big deal.”
♦ Seven Oak Middle School Co-Principal Mike Hillman presented sixth-grade math teacher Lisa Canaday with the Lebanon School District’s Teacher of the Year award, citing multiple students describing Canaday as “unique;” “she gets the job done;” “she challenges me but helps me also;” “she cares for us;” “she’s nice and tough;” “interesting and smart;” “she loves math;” “she has cool hair” (referring to the teacher’s multi-colored hair).
Hillman, noting he was standing in for Pioneer School Principal Tonya Cairo, presented PASS Room Instructional Assistant Helen Trask with a classified award, quoting Cairo in describing Trask as a “problem solver who models those problem-solving skills to her students,” doing such an “exceptional job that people from other communities have come to learn from her.
“She knows students as individuals and attends to their personal needs.”
♦ Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam Executive Director Kris Latimer presented Weyerhaeuser Santiam with the club’s Champion of Youth award for company employees’ contributions of time and volunteer energy to the club’s auctions, Brewfest, Classroom to Career Expo” and going “above and beyond for our kids.”
♦ Steve and Barb Tarrant, honored by the Lebanon Soup Kitchen for 1,200 hours of volunteer effort.
♦ Bryan Eilers, recognized as the Lebanon Booster Club’s Coach of the Year. Eilers, who coaches football and track at Lebanon High School, is an “ultimate Warrior,” said Kennedy, vice president of the Booster Club, in presenting the award. He said Eilers coached two state champion throwers, Zach Short and Morgan Hopkins, even though he didn’t throw himself in high school, and has coached football for the Warriors for 22 years.
He quoted football Head Coach Ty Tomlin, who described Eilers as a “guy who leads Lebanon athletics.”
♦ Optimist of the Year Sandra Rath.
Club President Dala Johnson also announced that the club is creating a new award named the “Bill Rauch Unsung Hero Award” in recognition of the initial recipient, longtime club member Rauch, who, Johnson said, demonstrates the qualities that will be the criteria for future honorees: someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty, does extra things for his/her fellow man, those in need, health and welfare, etc.as