Local leaders step into DSA breach
On Monday, three former DSA Woman of the Year winners, and two partners with distinguished community service records in their own right, announced plans to assume the mantle. They have established May 6 as a tentative date, at a venue yet to be decided.
The group consists of former DSA winners Sherl Hill of Freelin-Wade, Linda Schwichtenberg of West Coast Bank and Cassie Sollars of the McMinnville Downtown Association, along with fellow community leaders Jody Christensen of the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership and Stevie Whited of Express Employmet Professionals. The five first got together two years ago to organize Calendar Girls for Charity, a fundraiser designed to help put an ambitious Yamhill Community Action Partnership construction campaign over the top.
Launched by the Jaycees in 1955, the DSA program originally recognized a First Citizen and Junior First Citizen. Woman of the Year was added in 1973, Outstanding Educator and Outstanding Farmer were added in 1974, and First Citizen was changed to Man of the Year.
Ron Eborall, who died in 1993, was the original First Citizen. He operated McMinnville’s Sunshine Dairy, served as a volunteer firefighter and used his 6-5, 350-pound frame to become a convincing community Santa Claus every December.
Jim Craig, a Harvard law school grad who maintained a local law practice and served as district attorney, won the first Junior Citizen award. He was serving as president of the McMinnville Kiwanis Club at the time, has continued to play at active role in the club ever since, and has a long list of other community involvements to his credit.
The Jaycees pullout was announced in a letter from President Tina Oakes.
“We realized that in order to make this an event deserving of the spirit of DSA, we needed to completely start from scratch,” she said, with “new fundraising, new venue, revamped award categories and more.”
She said there wasn’t enough time for the club, which has been struggling with membership, funding and organizational issues, to accomplish that this year.
“The DSA deserves to be a grand and memorable event,” she said. She expressed hope the club would be able to “make sure it is” in future years, but wasn’t in a position to do so this year.
After undergoing a reorganization under new leadership, it hesitated before belatedly committing to last year’s DSA program. It also wavered on its annual fireworks show, but eventually went forward with it last year, holding it in Amity because a suitable venue could not be found in McMinnville.
Oakes said the club plans to put its immediate focus on fundraising and membership building.