Hometown Heroes founder honored during banquet
“Your Chamber: Being the Connection,” the theme of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce for 2009, was carried through by its selection of top county citizens recognized at its festive 30th annual banquet Sunday, Jan. 25.
Ben Boswell was visibly choked-up when he accepted a special award at the program. It honored him “For a lifetime of dedication and exemplary service to the citizens of Wallowa County.”
“I feel I’m here under false pretenses,” said the surprised and moved former 16-year Wallowa County commissioner, who had earlier given the event’s invocation. “Wallowa County has given me so much more than I can ever return,” he said, words that were borrowed for the occasion by other award winners.
Boswell’s one-of-a-kind plaque was presented by Diane Snyder, who praised him for being “the essense of the theme of the Wallowa County Chamber” – being an ongoing connection between Wallowa County and the rest of the world. Saying his list of accomplishments was far too long to mention, she lauded him instead for some of his stellar qualities, including being pragmatic and a visionary at the same time.
Boswell was the first citizen honored by the chamber at the packed-house gathering at Cloverleaf Hall. Unsung Hero Karen Raminha, founder of Hometown Heroes, received the final – but far from the least – award presented. Recognized for her faithfulness in sending off a box to every one of Wallowa County’s overseas soldiers every month for five years, Raminha said those soldiers and their families are the real heroes.
Other recipients during the awards ceremony were Vicki Searles, President’s Award; Myron Kirkpatrick, Business Award; Lisa Dawson, Leader in Entrepreneurship; Cheryl Jenkins, Employee of the Year; Jim Zacharias, Leader in Agriculture/Timber; Tom Hutchison, Leader in the Arts; Randy Morgan, Educational Leader; and Carolyn Pfeaster, Leader in Nonprofit Work. …
Employee of the Year
Cheryl Jenkins became office manager of the Wallowa County over six years ago, showing early on that she was a “learn it by doing” type of person.
During her tenure there have been five general managers or publishers at the Chieftain, and at one point stepped in as interim general manager for three months, juggling her own job with new responsibilities.
“Cheryl assisted in making sure each transition went smoothly, not only for the new hire, but for the staff and the community. She weathered these changes without a scratch,” said Marissa Williams, who served as acting publisher of the Chieftain for several months, in her letter nominating Jenkins.
Williams was unable to attend the banquet because of weather conditions, so the award was presented by the Chieftain’s new editor and publisher Andy Martin.
Jenkins’ nomination was enthusiastically supported by the entire Chieftain staff.
“Cheryl is a rock, giving us stability and consistency in the office,” said ad representative Jim Sackett. “She possesses a fundamental goodness and integrity that leads her to consistently choose to help others.”
“Cheryl is in many ways is the maternal heart of the Chieftain,” said staff reporter Elane Dickenson. “She’s the person who cheerfully answers the phone and goes far out of her way to help a client, customer, reader — or coworker. She’s the one person we all turn to.”