By Chris Hendrickson, Contributing Writer
Saturday was the 16th annual Sky Valley Community Awards Celebration, which was held at Sultan High School in the commons. The Sky Valley Citizens of the Year were crowned and many others were honored and recognized for their extensive volunteerism and community outreach.
The event, which was a potluck dinner, was sponsored by the Winters Lake Ladies Club, Friends of the Sultan Library and the Sultan Sky Valley Lions Club. Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Johnson was Master of Ceremonies, and the event was supported by many local volunteers including Elizabeth Emmons, Gold Dust Days Royalty, Dave and Jen Moon of the Sultan High School Tech Club, and many others.
Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Debbie Copple has facilitated the community awards event since its inception. She coordinates around a dozen organizations who all offer their submissions on who they would like to present with an award. Each award recipient receives a plaque in their honor at the ceremony, and it is also from these submissions that the Citizen of the Year is chosen.
Copple works behind the scenes with both Sultan and Gold Bar city councilmembers, allowing them to review all the submissions and then vote on their choice for Citizen of the Year.
She has learned from her years of experience that the voting on Sky Valley’s Citizen of the Year must be done in secret and that the results need to be kept a secret, even from the councilmembers.
“I learned this the first year,” said Copple. “You can’t trust them with a secret. They just get too excited.”
Copple checks the votes herself, ahead of time, so that she can get the plaques made and write the speech.
“The only one that knows, until the day of, is me,” said Copple.
In addition to Sky Valley Citizen of the Year, other awards include Random Acts of Kindness; Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year and Youth Volunteer of the year; Gold Bar Ladies V.F.W. Auxiliary 9417 Outstanding Citizen of the Year and several others.
In total there are approximately 12 organizations that participate in the community awards event.
Both Fire District #5 and District #26 gave special recognition to several of their firefighters.
Fire Chief Eric Andrews presented Mike “The Barber” Moore with the Firefighter of the Year award for Gold Bar’s Fire District 26. Moore owns Mike’s Barber Shop in Gold Bar, and Chief Andrews recounted tales of many unfinished haircuts throughout Moore’s continued service with the fire department. He explained that Moore always promised to complete the haircuts later, offering his clients the opportunity to return to his chair free of charge.
Chief Andrews also gave volunteer service awards to Nikolas Smith and Nathan Larsen for five years of service; Carrie Schumacher and Felicia Nelson for 10 years and Davi Martin and Robin Vargas for 15 years of service.
Snohomish County Fire District #5 Commissioner Steve Fox awarded Jeff Williams with Firefighter of the Year; honored Deputy Chief Jim Fulcher with a Distinguished Service award and presented Firefighter Steve Tonkin with a Leadership award.
H3 Horses Healing Heroes President Arleen Gibson awarded three volunteers who have supported her in her efforts to help Wounded Warriors suffering from post-traumatic stress and other issues stemming from their service in the U.S. Military. Gibson started her organization in 2012 with her sister, Joyce Coombs, and received her official federal 501C3 nonprofit status just last month.
Gibson thanked volunteers including her grandson, Sage Kiss, and Monroe resident Allyson Woods.
Other award recipients included Donna Rice, Dick King and Bill Moe, all of whom won the Random Acts of Kindness awards which are sponsored by the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce. Each year the chamber seeks out folks who participate in activities to help others without thinking about personal gain. Donna Rice was recognized for her work with Tabitha House; Dick King for his extensive volunteerism and Bill Moe, who is known for aiding and assisting disabled folks with lawn care, gardening, carpentry and much more.
Gold Bar resident Ray Coleman also received acknowledgement from presenter Debbie Copple during the Random Acts of Kindness award presentation. Coleman volunteers frequently in the Sky Valley community and is an active volunteer with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office. Coleman tirelessly compiles statistical data on crime rates and 911 calls for the cities of Sultan and Gold Bar each month.
Gold Bar Ladies V.F.W. Auxiliary President Arden King presented former Gold Bar City Councilmember Jay Prueher with the Outstanding Citizen of the Year award.
Other honorees included former Sultan councilmembers Steve Slawson and Kristina Blair who received special recognition from Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick; LeRoy Jensen who was honored by Sultan Sportsmen’s Club President C.H. Rowe; Joe and Anne Beavers who were honored by the Gold Bar Red Hat Ladies; Debbie Copple, who received a community service award from the Sultan-Monroe Masonic Lodge and Sky Valley Historical Society representative Iris Jensen honored Joyce Wolters.
Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Johnson presented the esteemed Volunteer of the Year award to Ted Jackson.
“We are very proud and grateful to be able to recognize Ted ‘Action’ Jackson as Sky Valley Chamber Volunteer of the Year,” said Johnson.
Jackson is well-known for his advocacy of outdoor recreation and has been instrumental in getting the Reiter Foothills ORV trail area reopened. He also spearheaded the IPZ movement, which is still in the works, with the Sky Valley Recreation Group meeting on a bi-monthly basis. Jackson has become a frequent traveler to Olympia where he lobbies tirelessly on behalf of the Sky Valley.
Jackson expressed that being honored at an event like the Sky Valley Community Awards is a dream-come-true for him.
The Chamber’s Youth Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Kymberlie Kenagy in a heartfelt speech by Elizabeth Emmons.
“I have worked with Kim on many events over the past several years; she’s a superstar on our team,” said Emmons. “She always works hard, with a joyful attitude and desire to help those around her.”
Emmons shared that Kenagy will be leaving the valley in July to join the United States Navy.
“She embodies community service; she’s an inspiration to work with,” said Emmons.
Kenagy volunteers all year long in such events as the chamber auction; the Sky Valley Farm Festival; Sultan Harvest; the Dave Wood Giving Tree toy drive; Winterfest; the Sky Valley Community Awards Dinner and many others. She is also the student representative on Sultan City Council and volunteers at the Sultan Visitor’s Center as well as with the Sultan Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization.
Finally, in the traditional joint presentation by both Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick and Gold Bar Mayor Linda Loen, Joe and Anne Beavers were honored with the Sky Valley Citizens of the Year award.
“Our citizens of the year have served through thick and thin, good times and bad. They have endured a steady stream of attacks on the city of Gold Bar,” said Loen. “It’s been a very painful and difficult battle at times, but they’ve persevered together.”
Beavers and his wife, Anne, thanked everyone for the honor.
“We’re just lucky to live in such a wonderful place and we thank you for all of your support through these interesting times,” said Anne.