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Gresham Elks honor top citizens, students

by: contributed photo by Roland Smith Former Troutdale Mayor Paul Thalhofer, a lifetime member of the Elks, was named Citizen of the Year by the Gresham Elks Lodge 1805.

The Gresham Elks Lodge 1805 recognized East County's outstanding citizens and volunteers during its annual awards banquet Saturday evening, March 12, while also awarding thousands of dollars in college scholarships to six high school seniors.

The awards banquet is dedicated to those who provide a service to the community and help the Elks Lodge fulfill its mission, which includes instilling the principles of charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity as well as cultivating good fellowship and patriotism.

The awards include the Citizen of the Year, who is selected by the Elks Lodge's exalted ruler.

Former Troutdale Mayor Paul Thalhofer, a lifetime member of the Elks, was named Citizen of the Year. Exalted Ruler Les Hofer said the award recognizes the person's service in the community, noting they don't have to be a member of the Elks to receive it. He added that Betty Chisum, the Elks' public relations chairwoman, helped him select Thalhofer.

Local police and fire departments also vote on their own members to be honored at the banquet.

• Gresham Police Department Officer of the Year: Officer James Seymour, who was recently promoted to detective.

• Gresham Fire and Rescue Officer of the Year: Lt. Travis Soles.

• Fairview Police Department Officer of the Year: Detective Brad Robertson.

• Troutdale Police Department Employee of the Year: Terri McDonough, records specialist.

The Gresham Elks then recognized six high school seniors who had placed in the Elks National Foundation's Most Valuable Student program. The Elks' scholarship committee ranks each student applicant on academic achievement, leadership and financial need. The top six students receive $4,500 in scholarships; the two students who receive first place go on to compete in regional and national competitions.

Kama Bell and Riley Protz, both of Gresham High School, received $1,000 scholarships. They recently won the Elks' state scholarship competition and will go on to the national competition in Chicago - the first-place winners receive a four-year $60,000 scholarship.

Emma Felzien of Reynolds High School and Cody Hanset of Gresham High received $750 scholarships; and Samantha Twardoch of Barlow High and Kevin Krautscheid of Centennial High received $500 scholarships. Krautscheid also received the $1,000 Sally Lamm Scholarship.

The Gresham Elks also honored its own members and volunteers during the ceremony.

The Non-Elk Volunteer of the Year awards went to Corbett resident Joan Benner, who volunteers as a librarian and cashier and helps edit the 'Elk Horn' newsletter; and Gresham resident Bea Ameele, who serves as chairwoman of the entertainment committee and volunteers as a cashier at banquets and in the lodge office.

Gresham resident Patty Bowser was named Officer of the Year, an award selected by former exalted rulers of the Gresham Elks. Bowser chairs the scholarship committee and was lodge secretary for the 2010-11 year. She will become lodge treasurer in April.

The Elk of the Year award, whose recipient is selected by past winners and by officers of the lodge, went to Gresham resident Jim Hosmer, who joined the Gresham Elks in 1992.

Hosmer, who retired from the city of Portland as a truck and equipment specifications writer, co-chairs the Christmas basket program, serves on the scholarship committee and helps with maintenance at the lodge.