'Visionary' named citizen of year

Steve Edwards, who is suffering from cancer, spearheaded bringing live theater to Dayton.

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Beth Rahn comforts her brother, Thorin Zanger, as they fight back tears after accepting the Citizen of the Year Award for their father, Steve Edwards.

DAYTON -- The Dayton Chamber of Commerce was "absolutely inundated" with nominations for Steve Edwards for the Citizen of the Year Award.

The award was announced during the annual Chamber banquet Thursday.

Accepting the award on behalf of their father were Thorin Zanger and Bethany Rahn, who both fought back tears as Zanger talked about Edwards.

Edwards has liver cancer, and was unable to attend the event.

Edwards and his family moved to Dayton 17 years ago when he was called as pastor of the United Church of Christ. At that time, the community was beginning to work on renovating the Liberty Theater, and Edwards saw an opportunity to bring live theater to the community.

"He has given and received from the community as much as can possibly be," Zanger said.

"He has loved every single person in this community. Those of you who have not been uniquely touched by Steve, it's not too late," Zanger said.

In the nomination letters, Edwards was called a "visionary, a person that empowers those around him, encourages them to be their very best, and always to be themselves."

"He has dedicated so very much of his time, talent and efforts to help others fulfill their potential," another nominator wrote.

"As a result of his dedication we are fortunate as a community to have a theater where we are well known for quality live productions with stunning costumes, excellent talented actors, and so many memories in our hearts," another person wrote.

The theme of the evening was "We Are Thankful," and Chamber board members who were present each told why they are thankful.

Outgoing board member Glenn Hagfeldt said as a small town, Dayton is a "can-do community," where everyone pitches in to make the community a good place to live and raise children.

Kathy Berg said she is thankful for the beautiful small town where she can find everything she needs in the stores.

Cougar Henderson was recipient of the Youth of the Year award, which was presented by last year's recipient, Molly Payne.

Nominators said Henderson is friendly to everyone and he always takes time to say hello. He was praised for his "heart" and how he truly cares for those around him.

Employee of the Year is Liberty Theater manager Reid Helford. He was described as "smart, talented, extremely funny and very thoughtful."

The award was presented by the 2009 recipient, Sal Benavides.

Helford "loves what he does, and it shows. He truly goes the extra mile in promoting every aspect of his business," a nominator wrote.

Scott Peters, community relations specialist for Columbia Rural Electric Association, accepted the Business of the Year award for his company.

Columbia REA has been part of the Dayton community since 1939. They are supporters of the Chamber, National Night Out, Columbia County Fair, 4-H, Columbia County Veterans, Kiwanis and other organizations.

Recipients of the historic preservation residential award were Kati and Kelly Wamble, who have been working on their home at 315 S. First St. The home, known as the Richardson-Donohue house, was built in 1903, and is on local, state and national historic registers.

The Historic Preservation commercial award went to Jerry and Jessica Kaiser, owners of the building leased by Puget Sound Energy at 307 E. Main St. They received the award for constructing a cover over the back entrance that is in keeping with the historic building, rather than the shed roof they originally planned to install.

Chamber officers and board members were introduced. Bette Lou Crothers is president, Bev Rising, vice president, and Barb Miller, treasurer.

New board members are Dan Andrews and Ken Graham, replacing Glenn Hagfeldt and Norm Passmore. Continuing members are Cara Breland, Katie Leid, Anne Walsh, Bill Clemens, Kathy Berg, and Andi Holmberg.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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