Annual Chamber of Commerce awards

by: Photo by Tony Ahern - Janet Brown, new economic development manager for Jefferson County, congratulates Mack Gardner on winning the title of Community Champion of the Year at the annual chamber banquet Oct. 20.

   Mack Gardner was honored by the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Saturday as its Community Champion of the Year.
   Gardner's honor was one of a handful chamber officials handed out at their annual banquet, held at the Inn at Cross Keys Station. Others included: Charitie Gamble tabbed as volunteer of the year, Dorothy Burgess as senior citizen of the year, and Sheriff Jim Adkins getting public servant of the year.
   Gary Gruner Chevrolet was named business of the year. The dealership is a consistent contributor to local events large and small, and this past year stepped up to be one of the key sponsors of the Airshow of the Cascades. Gary Gruner, owner, had to be out of town Saturday, but was presented with the honor at the chamber's After Hours event last Thursday.
   (See page 6 for a story on Gary Gruner Chevrolet).
   Gardner came to Madras in 1994 after retiring from a military career to run the 509-J's JROTC program. Since his retirement from the school district, he has remained very active in the community. He has been the manager of the Commission for Children and Families, head of the district Migrant Head Start program, and was on the county's Education Service District for nine years.
   Gardner is currently on the Mountain View Hospital District Board of Directors, on the Airshow of the Cascades board, and played an integral leadership role with the political action committee that successfully worked to get the 509-J school bond approved last spring.
   Janet Brown presented Gardner with the award, and shared several stories about chaperoning JROTC field trips, about the fun they and students had -- including taking rides in a Chinook helicopter.
   Brown noted she didn't have clearance to ride but wanted to, so Gardner told her to "get in line and look like you know what you're doing." She got the ride.
   Gardner noted how he and his wife, Susan, love Madras, and felt welcome immediately. He downplayed his own volunteerism by highlighting the efforts of others who routinely impress him.
   The award came as a "complete surprise" to Gardner. His neighbor, Dave Green, helped get him to the event by telling him he had two extra tickets.
   "I asked Susan if we were doing anything that night; she said no, so we said we'd go," said Gardner.
   Gamble, who manages the Madras office of MidOregon Credit Union, is very active within her church and Christian-based programs. She is board member with the Kids Club of Jefferson County and with the local Relay For Life cancer-fighting fundraiser. She's also on the Jefferson County Education Council Board.
   Gamble, who was presented the award by the owner of MidOregon, Greg Lambert, provided one of the night's most emotional moments. She noted that she had been told in high school that she would not be successful, but she knew that notion was wrong.
   "Success isn't the car you drive, the job you have or the clothes you wear. Success is the blessings you count when you go to bed at night, and I am very successful because I am very blessed," said Gamble.
   Adkins, the very popular county sheriff, was presented his honor as public servant of the year by Culver Mayor Shawna Clanton. Clanton praised Adkins for stepping up when the city decided it couldn't afford to fund a police officer.
   Clanton noted that Adkins assured the city that the sheriff's department would bolster its presence in Culver. Clanton said Adkins' actions have made the community more safe, and have saved the small town thousands of dollars.
   Adkins, who was raised in the area and returned to town after a serving in the Army, said it was "an honor to serve as your sheriff."
   Burgess, the senior citizen of the year, was not able to attend the banquet. Burgess was praised for her tireless efforts for Habitat for Humanity and Relay For Life, among other activities. The longtime resident of Jefferson County is also a member of the Juniper Family Finders, the Rebekahs, Daughters of the American Revolution and the Alpha Omicron Sorority.
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