Cub Scout Pack 52 scouts Jensen Kerr, and Nathan Coesens lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Cub Scout Pack 52 scouts Jensen Kerr, and Nathan Coesens lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Residents up and down the Sky Valley spend many hours each year giving back to the community without expecting a return.

Ever year, Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce staff ensure their work is recognized at the annual Community Awards Celebration Potluck. Business owners, high school students and volunteer firefighters were only a few of the many acknowledged as exemplary residents from Sultan, Gold Bar, Index and Skykomish during the 19th annual celebration on Saturday, Feb. 11.

“There are people here that work to support literacy, and people that work to break the cycle of poverty,” said Sky Valley Visitors Center president Debbie Copple. Their service is “what makes the fabric of the community as strong as it is.”

Before the Gold Dust Royalty took to the floor to help hand out the accolades, hundreds filled tables at Sultan High School. The event included the Posting of the Colors by Jensen Kerr and Nathan Coesens of Cub Scout Pack 52, Random Acts of Kindness announcements and celebratory speeches.

Snohomish County Fire District 26 Fire Chief Eric Andrews started the ceremony off by recognizing Brian Kendall, Brandon Vargas, Corey Wenzel and Eric Wilson for 5, 10, 25 and 30 years of service, respectively. The firefighters always go first, in case they need to respond to a call, Copple said.

“They are very vital,” Andrews said. “I will tell you that.”

The volunteer firefighters put in nearly 300 hours of training to be able to respond to the average three calls per day that come in at the Gold Bar station, Andrews said. There are some that do it because they want a career in the field, and some that “just want to help the community.” They receive only a small stipend for their efforts, and are often on call, he said.

Most award winners know they will be recognized as soon as they pick up the event’s program, such as Winters Lake Ladies Club member of the year Jean Roberts.

“It was a big surprise. I was at the table, leafing through the program for the night,” she said. “I thought it was a mistake. I thought they forgot to take my name off of the program from last year, but it was awfully nice of them.”

Presenters stuffed their speeches with words about the recipients’ dedication, tireless efforts and stout character.

Trey Shelton was named Sky Valley Arts Council Volunteer of the Year. The owner of NW Pest Control and general contractor was hired to get rid of the rat infestation at the Startup Gym, which is under renovations headed by the chamber, Copple said.

“Trey works his real job during the day but frequently can be seen with the lights on at the gym working on completing his plan,” she said. “All of the people working on this project have one thing in common, no matter what their own specialty is, and that is, they are very picky and have a very high standard of workmanship. Trey is the very definition of that.”

Shelton has already put a hefty 400 hours into the project, and is one reason Copple is certain the doors will one day be open to a building many have deemed permanently shut due to lack of funding.

The evening culminates with the award of Citizen of the Year, which remains a surprise until the very end.

This year, Sultan City Councilmember and Sultan School District employee Marianne Naslund took the highest prize. Copple touted Naslund’s top-notch organizational skills, and her two nearly uninterrupted decades of dedication to the Sultan Summer Shindig.

“She is involved in this community on so many different levels that it’s hard to pin it down to just one organization,” Copple said. “Basically, if it’s good for the Sky Valley, Marianne is probably working on it, whatever it is.”