Mayors reap a lot of glory. There are the ribbon cuttings, honoring students of the month and attending social functions as the face of the city. But many times people forget that along with the fun comes responsibility and difficult decisions to make. Just ask Shady Cove Mayor, Ron Holthusen, who in his first year of office, working side-by-side with the city council, has had to deal with FEMA issues, water issues, police department challenges and more. And then on top of all that, a Citizen of the Year had to be chosen.
This was no easy task as all of the nominees from nine organizations were more than worthy of the honor. In the end, Holthusen could not just give out one Citizen of the Year award. He honored both Pat Brooks from the Friends of the Shady Cove Library and from the Small Business Association he honored co-recipients Christie Eggleston and Mary Gunderlock for their hard work on the resurrection of the Spam Festival.
As President of the Friends of the Library, the modest Pat Brooks attends monthly meetings at libraries all over the county and of course runs the local meetings. Pat also volunteers at the Upper Rogue Community Center Food Pantry every Thursday, fills in at the URCC office, is active with the Wildflower Association and at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. Pat is the quiet one who wishes to go unnoticed as she goes about helping the community year after year. In fact, it annoyed her to be nominated because she feels everyone in an organization is equally deserving.
Christie Eggleston and Mary Gunderlock, two vivacious women, knew the community needed a shot in the arm. Businesses were hurting and residents missed the annual Spam celebration. Eggleston and Gunderlock decided to coordinate an all new Spam Festival. They worked tirelessly months on end for this major undertaking. The event turned out to be a huge success and was one of the most fun events the town has ever seen. Business increased during the festival, residents got to renew acquaintances and visitors vowed to come back to Shady Cove. The Spam Festival turned out to be that old-fashioned, small town kind of day we all remember from the past.
Most of the nominees are active in multiple organizations and had worked equally hard for each group. The nominees were: Upper Rogue Moose Lodge No. 2480 Governor, Jim Paisley, for his dedication to the charitable and social activities that make the lodge a major community gathering place; Virginia Rigel for the Upper Rogue Community Center. As manager of the ACCESS Food Pantry, Rigel made her clients feel welcome and worthy; Paula Trudeau for the Upper Rogue Watershed Association for carrying on when the association lost their coordinator to cancer. Trudeau also shares her extensive knowledge continuously to benefit the association.
Three women, Pat Brooks, Clarisse Pitto and Virginia Rasmussen, were co-recipients from the Wildflower Association. The three are the mainstay of the organization that buys equipment for Fire District 4 from the proceeds of the Wildflower Show; Volunteer Firefighter, Stu Frazier, was the nominee for Fire District 4 Support Group. Frazier responds to all calls including in the middle of the night. He is consistent and dedicated and checks with the fire department daily to see what he can do.
Ed Mayer represented the Greater Shady Cove Boosters for taking over the presidency in 2009 when no one else stepped up to the plate. Mayer is also president of the Upper Rogue Grange and a dedicated fundraiser for the Cool Club; Last but not least were a mother and daughter, Connie and Juliana Mathis who have volunteered at the City of Shady Cove for five years working in the billing department, including opening and categorizing up to 1,000 pieces of mail each month. Administrative Assistant, Paula Stroop, said, “I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Because all of the nominees could not be Citizen of the Year, Holthusen spent some time making the final choices. In the end, Brooks was chosen for her understated, quiet giving to the community. And Eggleston and Gunderlock stood out for taking over the business community and resurrecting the Spam Festival. Holthusen noted the public sector is quite different from the business world. As mayor, there is fallout from decisions the public may not agree with. In this case, however, it is doubtful anyone could find fault with Holthusen for his decision to honor these three very special citizens.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent