Hours of volunteering has paid off for Bill Gushulak, who last week was selected as the Citizen of the Year for 2000 in Fort Frances.
The Citizen of the Year committee chose Gushulak for his community involvement over the years--culminating this past July with the Fort Frances High School “Millennium” reunion, which attracted hundreds of former residents back to town.
“His endeavours of the past year have been unbelievable,” Mayor Glenn Witherspoon noted last Thursday. “He was involved in a lot of things besides being the mastermind for the [FFHS] reunion.”
The Citizen of the Year committee presented their choice to councillors during the in-camera portion of the committee of the whole meeting a week ago Monday.
“I think, in my opinion, Bill has always been a very active member of the community,” said committee member Larry Cousineau. “In his early 20s, he was in the Jaycees and he’s [since] been involved in everything under the sun.”
Gushulak said he was surprised by the choice but added it was a great way to ring in the new millennium.
“I was very surprised, I would have thought there were many many more who have done very much but I’ll savour the glory,” he said. “It was very thoughtful and I thank everyone.
“I’ll always look to do things for the community which has done so much for me,” he added. “It’s in me to do things and I’ve enjoyed doing them. Fortunately I’ve been surrounded by others who want to do these things as well.”
Gushulak was nominated by Mark Kowalchuk, who was the Citizen of the Year in 1994. The two worked together closely in organizing this year’s FFHS reunion.
“I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of this award than Bill,” Kowalchuk wrote in his nomination. “If there is indeed one who is more deserving, then that person would surely have to be a remarkable person and contributor to his/her community.”
Besides organizing the high school reunion, Gushulak, owner of Fort Frances General Supply on Mowat Avenue, is involved with the town’s Economic Development Corp.
Gushulak is an active member, and former president, of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce. He also is the president of the Fort Frances Curling Club and a member of Knox United Church, where he practices with the church’s choir and often participates in the Sunday service.
He also has been involved in a number of youth programs such as the junior curling program, the Aquanauts swim team, and has been a leader for both the local Beaver and Scout programs.
And he often can be called on to serve as the Master of Ceremonies for community events.
The Citizen of the Year is asked to participate in a number of community events throughout the year, including the Santa Claus and Canada Day parades.
“I guess I have to get the wave down. I’ll be looking forward to doing what is expected of me,” Gushulak said.
The Citizen of the Year committee spent quite a bit of time deliberating who the winner would be given the number of strong nominations received this year.
“I think it was one of the toughest decisions we’ve ever made,” said Cousineau, who did not reveal who the other nominees were, or how many people were nominated.
But he did urge nominees to submit their recommendations again in 2001. “Anybody that has made a presentation for someone can do it again next year,” Cousineau said.
Last year’s Citizen of the Year was Fort Frances Times publisher Jim Cumming.