The League of Oregon Cities honored Gresham City Manager Erik Kvarsten with its 2013 Herman Kehrli Award during the league's 88th annual conference on Saturday, Sept. 28, in Portland.

The award is given to city employees who make exceptional contributions to city government in Oregon, producing lasting benefits for their local community, said Laura Shepard, city spokeswoman.

Kvarsten has served local governments in Oregon, for three decades. He was the longtime city manager for Troutdale before becoming the assistant city manager of Gresham. A short time later, he was named Gresham's city manger in August of 2004.

During his 10-year tenure in Gresham, Kvarsten has guided the city through ever shrinking budgets while increasing citizen participation and maintaining a strong focus on efficiency and customer service. This includes providing leadership support for cutting-edge initiatives such as renewable energy projects at Gresham's wastewater treatment plant that save ratepayers around $280,000 a year.

"The Herman Kehrli Award is the 'Hall of Fame' for city leaders," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. "Erik's distinguished career and consummate professionalism made him a perfect nominee for this high honor. Gresham has benefited tremendously from his creativity, his ability to budget through tumultuous times and the trust he has helped build in the community."

The award recognizes individuals who provide the kind of outstanding public service that epitomized the career of Herman Kehrli, executive secretary of the League of Oregon Cities and director of the University of Oregon's Bureau of Governmental Research and Service from 1933 to 1966.

Kehrli, who passed away in 1990, received the first award in 1988. Under his leadership, the league and the bureau jointly advanced an ambitious agenda of research, consultation and training in city government affairs, establishing standards of excellence for local government officials.

Philomath City Manager Randy Kugler also was honored as a winner of this year's Herman Kehrli Award.

Founded in 1925, the League of Oregon Cities is a voluntary association representing all 242 of Oregon's incorporated cities.

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