'BACKBONE OF COMMUNITY'

October 10, 2001 12:00 am
Glen McKenzie -Good Steward ().
Glen McKenzie -Good Steward ().

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

These are the people that make Union County, Chamber of Commerce President Tom Frazier said near the end of Tuesdays 53rd Farmer/Merchant Banquet.

Frazier asked those among the nearly 300 guests who had received any of the awards in the past to stand.

While many stood, he nodded to them. These are forever winners, he said.

During an evening that echoed with quiet patriotism, from pre-dinner conversations about the current military situation to a standing ovation for singer Sgt. Frank Carlson and guitarist Al MacLeod, who performed a medley of patriotic songs, people accepted awards with little fanfare and sincere gratitude.

Frazier set the tone during the evening invocation, reciting a Farmers Creed that, according to Frazier, said it all. The creed ends with the line, I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.

Keeping the evening moving, and sharing a few jokes, was emcee Jeff Wallace, a former FFA state officer and now circuit court judge for Umatilla and Morrow counties.

Wallace urged those in the audience to keep in mind what agriculture gives to a community financially, spiritually and morally. Those, along with the land of Eastern Oregon, make this a great place to live, he said.

Good Steward of the Year

Being announced as the winner of the Good Steward award by Dale Counsell of the Union County Soil and Water Conservation District, Glen McKenzie of Summerville was quick to turn the tables.

Instead of claiming credit for all hes done on the land his family has farmed for 135 years, McKenzie said that the farms been taking care of my family for 135 years and he thought it was only right he took care of it.

McKenzie was noted for using no-till planting methods for 15 years, for not practicing field burning, for continuing the selective cutting of the propertys timber lands started more than 100 years ago, and operating a diverse operation through the years.

He has also been one of the premier square-dance callers in the region, Counsell added.

Natural Resources

Cooperator of the Year

The winners of the Natural Resources Cooperator of the Year award had to be talked into accepting the award, presenter Vance McGowan said.

They didnt feel they were doing anything special, McGowan said as he announced that Mickey and Jack Courtney were being

recognized.

The Courtneys, McGowan said, have protected more than three miles of Whiskey Creek, have turned 40 acres into a demonstration area and worked closely with forestry and wildlife agencies.

I believe theyve gone the extra mile, he added.

Accepting the award, Mickey Courtney turned the credit aside. Everybody else did the work, but thank you.

Conservation Farmers of the Years

Active in commodity groups, active in their community, and active as conservationists trying to prevent wind and water erosion on the 1,000 acres of Imbler-area land they farm and graze, Dale and Lisa Eisiminger were chosen

Conservation Farmers of the

Year.

Presenter Janine End pointed to the alternative crops, the rotation system and the long-term soil stabilization the Eisimingers are known for, as well as the work they have done with wetlands along the banks of the Grande Ronde River and Willow Creek.

The couple are also active in their support of FFA, 4-H, the school district and their church, End said.

Dale Eisiminger accepted the award, but again turned the attention to others, saying that the family had plenty of help along the way, from friends and neighbors, to each other.

Young Farmer of the Year

Its a sure sign of middle years when you win Young Farmer of the Year, Sam Royes joked after he and wife, Clover, accepted the award from Debbie Scott of the Union County Farm Bureau.

Royes was recognized for his work as a grass seed and mint producer, his involvement with the countys smoke management committee and his work with Blue Mountain Seeds.

Ag Woman of the Year

Janine End was back on stage, this time nearly in tears, as she was named Ag Woman of the Year.

Reed Stewart of Pendleton Grain Growers gave the award, pointing out Ends achievements as both a merchant and a grower through the years, both before and after her husbands death. Shes also been active through FFA, the Oregon Wheat League and as president of the countys Wheat Growers, Stewart said.

When asking others what they thought of End, Stewart said the comments he heard included, Shes a real, real worker, and I dont know what wed do without her.

With tears in her eyes and her voice trembling, End accepted the award but protested that I already gave my speech.

Noting friends and family, and those who have been supportive over the years, End told everyone that I really appreciate it.

Cattleman of the Year

Jim Murchison, last years winner of the Cattleman of the Year award, said that it seems like its been an awful short year, since he accepted his award partly because he had to give another speech, and partly because he didnt want to give up the traveling trophy.

But the trophy was going to a well-deserving person, Murchison said, who has ranched in the Grande Ronde Valley since 1976, first with his father and more recently with his brother.

In naming Ted Mudd of High Valley as Cattleman of the Year, Murchison said that I think this family is a good representative of the backbone of America.

Mudd gave his thanks, then turned to his neighbor and said, You gave a good speech.

As the evening ended, Frazier urged that in the coming days each person should recognize the help and support they receive from others. As the fighter pilot who later met the seaman who packed the parachute that he used to exit his crashing plane learned, many people go into helping each person be a success.