WINCHESTER — Sutherlin Area Chamber of Commerce President Tami Trowbridge and Sutherlin firefighter Mike Buck were named Woman and Man of the Year Saturday at the annual Sutherlin First Citizens Awards Banquet at Umpqua Community College.
Sutherlin Chamber of Commerce board member Terry Prestianni presented Trowbridge’s award. He said Trowbridge works tirelessly on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Sutherlin Downtown Development corporation, of which she was one of the original creators, and anything else that might benefit the community.
“It’s through her leadership and innovative ideas that these groups have grown into what they are today and have accomplished a lot for the city of Sutherlin and surrounding areas,” Prestianni said.
He said Trowbridge convinced the Sutherlin City Council to turn over tourism development to the Chamber, played a key role in obtaining funds to transform Central Avenue, and helped fund and design downtown holiday decorations.
“I think we can all agree those are pretty amazing, aren’t they?” he said to applause.
But what matters most, he said, is that somebody cares.
“The one thing we can say about Tami Trowbridge is that she cares about the people in our community. She cares about the success of our community,” he said.
Trowbridge said she was deeply honored by the award.
“I love serving with all of you guys and working with all of you people. This has been some of the best years,” she said.
2017 Man of the Year Jon White presented Buck’s award. White said the year he won, he was told he’d get to ride in the fire truck during the parade, but they canceled the parade.
“I just hope that this year’s nominee gets to ride in the fire truck,” he said.
He said Buck has gone “from zero to hero” in the two years he’s been with the Sutherlin Fire Department.
Buck said after joining Family Church 13 years ago he had the opportunity to serve the less fortunate in Mexico, and when he returned he had new inspiration.
“I was meant to serve. I never felt that feeling before. I always felt like an outcast, I always felt weird. But I never felt more right than when I was serving, and over the years it has been awesome,” Buck said.
He said being able to serve is in itself all the thanks he needs.
Also honored Saturday was Outstanding Educator Melissa Jmaeff, who was lauded for growing the music program at Sutherlin High School. Principal Kevin Hunt said the school had a half-time music program and no band before Jmaeff came on board, and now it has 98 band students and three choir classes. Hunt said Jmaeff has laid a foundation for the music program that he hopes will extend for many years.
Marshall’s Towing was named Outstanding Business. Janelle Edelman of Nelli’s Deli said the company’s owners, Marshall and Elaine Jennings, have provided vehicles to local fire departments for training and been foster parents to many children of all ages.
“For over 30 years they have been providing a service with integrity and honor,” Edelman said.
The Outstanding Service award was given to Richard George, the director of the Sutherlin-Oakland Emergency Food Pantry. Sutherlin Library Director Pat Lynch said one person who was served by George said, “I was delivered a breathing machine, two Orange Crushes, and a large Milky Way. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Renee Lillie was named Inspirational Leader. Chamber Treasurer Theresa Solem said Lillie has been a champion of small business and helped bring Small Business Saturday to Sutherlin. She also gave soap to homeless people at Feed the Burg, and helped women in Third World countries break out of poverty by learning to make soap for sale.
Trowbridge also presented the President’s Award to two Sutherlin city officials, Community Development Director Brian Elliott and Public Works Director Aaron Swan. She lauded Elliott for his professionalism and support for development, as well as for single-handedly keeping a warming center open for two nights. She lauded Swan for his work on the city’s infrastructure, as well as for convincing many city employees to complete the training to become firefighters.