By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Awards honor key community contributors

News-Register Publisher Jeb Bladine, co-founder of the McMinnville Downtown Association, was named Man of the Year. Accountant Kathy Cabe, a longtime member of the McMinnville School Board, shared Woman of the Year Honors with local businesswoman Pam Watts, a central figure in the Mayor’s Ball, Yamhill Valley Heritage Center and Yamhill Enrichment Society.

McMinnville High School English teacher Angela Newport was named Outstanding Educator, accountant Brooke Ehret was named Outstanding Junior Citizen and CSA partners Andre and Sheila Jaillet were named Outstanding Young Farmers.

Most important, banquet attendees said, McMinnville continued its tradition of honoring those who give selflessly to the community and its residents. They lauded the people who stepped forward to organize the event after the McMinnville Jaycees, who started the DSA program in the mid-1950s, were unable to continue the event this year.

“This was too important to let it lapse,” said MDA Director Cassie Sollars, McMinnville’s 2004 Woman of the Year.

When she received the news, she met with a set of friends — Stevie Whited, Jodi Christensen and past Woman of the Year winners Linda Schwichtenberg (2007) and Sherl Hill (2010) — for a salvage effort. They recruited former Man of the Year winners Dave Haugeberg (1992), Ed Gormley (1998) and Walt Gowell (2011) and set about it.

“In true McMinnville style, we took it on and made it happen,” Hill said.

Members of the group are hoping an established local organization will step forward to take over the ceremony. To that end, they passed out suggestion cards at the event.

Held in the McMinnville Grand Ballroom, it drew a full house of 150 — three times the attendance of recent years. And the crowd was in a festive mood, rising repeatedly to honor winners with standing ovations.

Haugeberg and Gowell, law partners who got Watts started on the community service track when they hired her as a legal secretary, said they were pleased to see the DSA tradition continue.

The program benefits the community by shining a light on the many leadership roles and volunteer opportunities available in McMinnville, Gowell said. And it gives residents a way to say thank you to the people who dedicate themselves to doing what needs to be done.

“The DSA awards have meaning,” he said. “They’re important for this community.”

Haugeberg added, “It’s a chance to stop and reflect on the people who’ve made a difference in our lives and say thank you.”

Former longtime mayor Ed Gormley delivered the keynote address. He extolled McMinnville’s tradition of volunteerism, saying it goes back to the city’s earliest days. Volunteers have had the vision and done the work that’s made this a vital community, he said.

With vision, vitality and volunteerism as his theme, Gormley mentioned some of the city’s volunteer-driven accomplishments: A clean water supply overseen by McMinnville Water & Light since 1905; the Evergreen museums; Kids on the Block, a partnership of the city, school district and business community that provides children with enrichment activities after school; the Mayor’s Ball, McMinnville’s biggest annual party and a key funding source for KOB; the efforts that turned the old National Guard Armory into the community center and won funding for the Newberg bypass; a model downtown, wonderful parks, the Aquatic Center and many other jewels.

He asked members of the already receptive crowd to continue to devote themselves to the community.

“We must be vigilant in protecting the values that make people want to live here, raise their families here, retire here,” Gormley said. “We need you to help keep the community vital. We need to make the community better than we found it.”

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