INDEPENDENCE -- Civic involvement has been Bill Foster's trademark during his more than 50 years in Monmouth and Independence.
Foster said he's often asked if he knows what the word "no" means when approached about volunteering.
"I haven't yet figured that out; some day, I will," Foster told the audience Friday night during the Monmouth-Independence Community Awards Banquet at Central High School while being recognized as a Distinguished Citizen. "I do what I do, because that's what I do.
"And I'm happy to do it."
Foster was instrumental in starting the predecessor to what's now Central Youth Sports in 1976 and a softball program
at Central High. His wife, Agnes, said he fought for worker rights as a union leader for Boise Cascade. As a Monmouth Business Association member, he's helped coordinate Fourth of July festivities and the town's concert series. He's been a city planning commissioner for more than a decade.
Foster said he's more comfortable being behind the scenes. In fact, during the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce's signature event last week, he took a break from running the sound board -- which he also does for his church -- to receive his plaque on stage.
"It's easy to do the job when you have great people to work with," said Foster, recently named chamber president, while flanked by his family.
About 300 people attended the banquet to honor more than a dozen citizens, business owners, teachers and students for contributions in the two cities.
Cec Koontz, a Monmouth City Councilor, was named First Citizen.
Photo by Pete Strong
Cecilla "Cec" Koontz was named First Citizen. (Photos of those receiving awards can be found by clicking Images on the website.)
Stan Peterson of Independence was the evening's other Distinguished Citizen. Peterson, pastor of Monmouth Christian Church for 26 years, has been chaplain for local police and firefighters for nearly as long.
He's been a board member of Polk County Fire District No. 1 and a volunteer football and track and field coach at Central High. Peterson was raised in the area, but said he moved away for a stint in the military and three years of mission work in Africa.
"When we came back, I could not think of any place that I would rather be than here, home," Peterson said.
Wings of Wonder, a butterfly farm and onsite rearing lab in Buena Vista, was named Agricultural Business of the Year. Owner Robert Heriford said wrangling the insects was hard work.
"You have to be tough," said Heriford to laughter; he's also a powerlifter. "We also teach life-cycle classes and that's pretty tough, too -- you have to keep the children from taking caterpillars and butterflies home with them."
Joynt Family Chiropractic of Monmouth received New Business accolades. Dr. Brian Joynt said opening his clinic last year was a "stressful and nerve-racking procedure."
"I've been around the world, lived in Germany for a while, lived in Texas, the east and west coasts," Joynt said. "I've never met a community like Monmouth and Independence. I love it here."
The Polk County Itemizer-Observer newspaper, which covers Monmouth and Independence, received honors as the chamber's Large Business of the Year.
The evening ended with a special recognition of Marilyn Morton, who ended her two-year stint as chamber manager last week.
"It has been a pleasure and joy to go out into the community and meet with you because I've been meeting and greeting my friends," Morton said.
And the Winners Are ...
Winners at the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Banquet:
* First Citizen -- Cecilia "Cec" Koontz
* Distinguished Service -- Bill Foster and Stan Peterson
* New Business -- Joynt Family Chiropractic
* Small Business -- MaMere's Bed and Breakfast
* Large Business -- Polk County Itemizer-Observer newspaper
* Agricultural Business -- Wings of Wonder
* Nonprofit -- Masonic Lodge AF&AM, Lyon No. 29
* Specialty Business -- R&J Mobility
Educators of the Year:
* Elementary Teacher -- Jane Swann
* Secondary Teacher -- Mike Jennings
* Classified Employee -- Stacy Olson
* Henry Hill Elementary School -- Magali de los Santos
* Monmouth Elementary School -- Anne Mitchell
* Independence Elementary School -- Zackary Vinyard
* Ash Creek Elementary School -- Allison Wells
* Talmadge Middle School -- Reba Hoffman
* Central High School -- Itsel Venegas Trujillo
* Mid-Valley Christian Academy -- Elizabeth Boldt
* Western Oregon University -- Brittany Naas