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A groundbreaking First Citizen

By ERIC A. HOWALD 

Of the Keizertimes

As Vickie Jackson accepted the title and award of Keizer’s First Citizen at a banquet Saturday, Jan. 19, she called out the previous First Citizen honorees in a line in front of her. 

“They set the example for me to follow,” said Jackson. 

Jackson was one of four award winners during the banquet, which is an annual event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. Kyle Juran, owner of Remodeling by Classic Homes, was honored as Merchant of the Year. Brian Aicher was presented the Service to Education Award, and Larry Schmidgall was given the President’s Award by current Chamber President Bob Shackleford. 

Jackson’s list of community involvement threatened to have presenter Joe Egli reaching for a glass of water, but the longtime owner of AccurAccounts broke new ground in one of Keizer’s older institutions. 

Jackson became a member of the Rotary Club of Keizer in 1990 – just two years after the club began admitting women – and served as the first woman president in 1998-99. She served as president again in 2014-15. 

“Rotary taught me how to give back to the community and how to be comfortable speaking in front of all you with all these bright lights,” Jackson said. 

Aside from Rotary involvement, Jackson has longstanding engagements with the Keizer and Salem chambers of commerce, Gubser Elementary School Parent-Teacher Club, the Whiteaker Middle School Mom and Dad Squad, the McNary High School Graduation Party, the Distinguished Young Women of Keizer program,and the Chemeketa Community College Advisory Committee. She’s also had a guiding role in the Keizer Big Toy project and the McNary High School Turf project. 

“The list goes on and on,” said Egli. “In addition to that, she’s hosted nine exchange students and has an impeccable reputation.”

Depending on the specific group or organization, Jackson is able to provide an undercurrent of consistency in otherwise high-turnover efforts, the McNary Grad Party being one of them.

Jackson started as an employee of the business she now owns, but said her community involvement is what’s helped it grow. 

“I didn’t try to make it get bigger, it happened because I met people in the community and they would want our help, too,” Jackson said. “That’s my message as First Citizen: if you have an opportunity to give back, find a way to do it. The benefits far outweigh the few minutes you give.”

Jackson lives in Keizer with her husband, Randy. They have two sons, Nicholas and Cody. 

Juran was honored for his involvement in city- and chamber-based committees and for the Classic Homes team going the extra mile to design and build a playhouse that was auctioned off during the 2018 KeizerFEST to raise money for the Keizer Network of Women Giving Basket Program. Juran also led the recent redesign on the new Chamber of Commerce office on River Road N. 

“Thank you for this and I appreciate the chance to work here in Keizer and work with the Chamber,” said Juran in accepting the award. 

Aicher is a longtime coach of Keizer youth and was commended for always giving extra time and attention to athletes beyond his involvement in boards and committees and contributions to major projects. 

“This is a tremendous honor and an even bigger surprise. I’ve coached a lot of people who are every bit as deserving of this as I am,” Aicher said. 

Schmidgall, Shackleford’s personal choice for the President’s Award, is a driving force behind the scenes of KeizerFEST and decorating River Road North for the holidays. For more than a quarter of a century, Schmidgall has helped stage parades, erect the KeizerFEST tent and drive dignitaries along the parade route. He also mans the forklift that allows other volunteers to hang holiday ornaments from the streetlights along River Road North each year. 

Schmidgall only reluctantly took the mic after having his name called. “Very unexpected. Thank you,” he said.