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More nominees for top citizen sought

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With only two weeks to go until the Oct. 31 deadline, the town’s “Citizen of the Year” selection committee is asking the public to nominate individuals who have made a difference in our community for the award.

Only three nominations have been filed so far, Civic Centre staff reported.

Nomination forms are available at the information desk at the Civic Centre, which must be returned there by 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31.

Anyone who has done an outstanding job for the community in any way is eligible for the award. The only stipulation is that the recipient be a resident of the Town of Fort Frances and that the nominee not presently hold elected office.

Mark Kowalchuk, the 1994 “Citizen of the Year” and a member of the selection committee, said nominees don’t have to be high-profile individuals.

Rather, he said successful nominees are often “that person who tends to blend into the background, but is always helping neighbours, helping people in the community, extending support in all kinds of ways that really don’t stand out in the public. . . . They just go beyond what average people do.

“Very often, we think of all the things people have done when it’s too late—they’ve either passed way, moved away, or just burned out,” Kowalchuk added.

“Maybe they didn’t do it for the recognition—that’s not what motivates people, but it is nice just to publicly acknowledge it’s not just public officials that make a difference in a community, it’s the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that live in the community itself, whether they’re young folks, seniors, or the middle-aged,” he stressed.

Kowalchuk, who sits on the selection committee along with Bill Gushulak (“Citizen of the Year 2000”), Mayor Roy Avis, and Coun. Sharon Tibbs, said people who may have submitted nominations for individuals in the past, and who were not chosen that particular year, should re-nominate that person as long they are still an active member of the community.

“It’s always important to try to make sure that people are acknowledged for what they’re providing in the community,” he remarked. “Depending on the year, someone may have stood out and eclipsed another nominee, but it doesn’t mean the person that didn’t get [chosen] isn’t deserving of the honour.

“It is important to look at that and re-nominate. And if they don’t get in the next year, do it again because it is important that these people are thanked publicly for what they do.”

The committee encourages as many people as possible to nominate deserving individuals so they have plenty to choose from.

“I think it is a good idea to have more because you see what people are doing in the community that is so different from what others are doing,” Kowalchuk said, adding past honourees have ranged from being Special Olympians to those who are tireless at selling tickets in support of various charities.

“The more people we can look at, the more we get a cross-section of what is being done in our community,” he reasoned.

At the very least, the call for “Citizen of the Year” nominations is an opportunity for the public to do some stock taking of those people in their lives who make a difference, and even if residents don’t go the full extent of nominating someone, they might be prompted to personally thank them for the work they’ve done, Kowalchuk noted.

Following the Oct. 31 deadline, the selection committee will meet and make its decision so town council can give its approval at its Nov. 10 meeting.

The town’s 21st “Citizen of the Year” then will be formally honoured at the town’s annual appreciation banquet Nov. 21 at La Place Rendez-Vous, and be asked to take part in the Santa Claus and Canada Day parades.

The identities of the nominees will not be revealed. Only the winner will be publicly announced.

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