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Men of the hour

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce held its annual award banquet last Saturday, honoring four men who have played an outsized role in the community.

James Trett was announced as Keizer’s First Citizen for 2016. He stepped up to the microphone to thunderous applause from the attendees, with a shocked, yet humble look on his face.

Trett’s biggest impact over the past four decades has been his work with Keizer’s youth. His work as the Keizer Fire District’s public education officer brought him in contact with students at schools. Growing from that role Trett soon was teaching first aid and CPR to kids.

His work with kids did not stop when he left the public education post. Whiteaker Middle School was  his second home as he assisted with the choir program and other duties around the school. The Chamber recognized him the first time in 2006 when he was presented with the Service to Education award.

Keizer is what it is because of people exactly like Jim Trett. He is a person who always asks “How can I help?” Like all good volunteers, Trett does what he does out of duty and passion, not recognition.

His quiet demeanor belies a fierce determination to do what is right and fair. All those that know Jim Trett personally is his friend; he’d have it no other way.

Trett’s choice as the First Citizen  was the right pick for this or any other year. Just as he has inspired decades of Keizer youth, he inspires Keizer’s grown-ups to do their duty and do their best.

Saturday’s award banquet was an evening of inspired choices. Bob Shackleford, local realtor, was named as Merchant of the Year. He was chosen for his volunteer work in many areas but especially with a group he now leads: Men of Action in Keizer (MAK), the counterpart to the Keizer Network of Women (KNOW).

Shackleford is constantly on the watch for projects MAK can do to help the community, organizations or individuals. No project is too small. From clearing brush and weeds to creating better sightlines for drivers, to assisting a widow of a late veteran, Shackleford rouses the group of men to do what needs to be done—all without any benefit to himself. That’s the definition of winner.

Keizer’s Mr. Christmas, Dave Walery, received his second President’s Award (the only person to have won the same honor more than once). The award was selected and presented by Chamber president Scott White.

White cited Walery’s non-stop  volunteer work that benefits Keizer and its residents from installing the Christmas lights on River Road to co-chairing the Keizer Iris Festival.  His position on the Chamber board of directors allows him to bring his common sense business acumen to the table.

Another person who has had major influence on Keizer kids is Larry Smith, who was honored with the Service to Education Award. Smith was a long-time football and softball coach at the club and school level.  His early works with youth football led, eventually, to McNary High School winning two state championships in four years.

Tough but passionate, Smith’s unwritten motto could easily be: never let winning get in the way of right and wrong. He taught his teams, at every level, the importance of playing the game fairly over any trophies or ribbons. A lesson that should still be very much in vogue.

Along with the Chamber of Commerce, the Keizer community congratulates all the deserving winners. They all bring to life our city’s motto of pride, spirit and volunteerism.