Hermiston’s annual Distinguished Citizens Awards is a gathering of mostly adults, but one of this year’s top honorees was noted as much for her youthful nature as for her service to the community.

Shawn Lockwood, an accounting manager at Hermiston Generating Company, was named the 2018 Woman of the Year by the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday night.

“To say that she’s the most energetic person in a room full of teenagers is not an understatement,” said New Hope Community Church paster Tim Beal, who presented the award to Lockwood.

Though she was nearly speechless upon receiving the award, Lockwood said she was completely honored.

She said she’s primarily motivated by her relationship with God.

“That drives me,” she said.

Lockwood spends much of her free time volunteering with local youth, both through New Hope and outside. She has volunteered for Campus Life, Hermiston Little League board, has coached cross-country and owned her own business.

Beal described Lockwood’s extensive community service — spending a week in California with high schoolers, processing peaches to send to third-world countries, and leading various youth group activities — all the while keeping a youthful spirit herself.

“This past weekend, I was with her as she mentored kids at Meadowood camp,” Beal said, recalling her laughing as she sledded into piles of snow with kids.

Lockwood said she had initially planned a trip to Las Vegas this week, but her colleagues convinced her to stay, keeping her in the dark about the award.

“It’s terrific,” she said. “I had no idea. I thought I was supposed to get someone else here.”

Lockwood, like most award winners throughout the night, insisted that they were only able to do their good work because of the help of their community.

Dennis Barnett described Hermiston’s Man of the Year in glowing terms, paraphrasing a quote by Mother Teresa about doing good things anyway, even when others might be selfish or jealous.

“Mother Teresa might be a stretch,” Ford Bonney remarked drily as he accepted the award.

Bonney is a longtime business owner in the community and owns Hale’s Restaurant, a fixture in downtown Hermiston. He is famous for his auctioneering skills and frequently puts those skills to use for charity.

Barnett said Bonney has worked quietly behind the scenes, giving tirelessly to the community personally and through his businesses. Bonney, he said, is humble, unassuming and knowledgable about everything going on in the community.

“This individual has been involved with almost every organization in the community in one form or another,” Barnett said.

When Bonney got up to receive the award he deflected attention from himself by having his family stand up and thanking them, along with the entire community and Barnett, without whom “I probably wouldn’t be in business.”

The Bob Severson Rotary Business of the Year went to Purswell Pump.

Presenter Tony Garberg said the business was a multi-generational, decades-old business that offered “honest, fair service” and was known for its many acts of kindness and generosity in the community. He said as a customer himself, he could speak to their exceptional customer service.

“Both times I called the business at 6:30 in the morning and Scott (Purswell) answered,” Garberg said. “He not only answered, but within 15 minutes Scott was at my house fixing the problem.”

Purswell said he had been looking at the list of past winners of the award and it was “truly an honor to be on the list with them.”

The Merit of Honor Award went to Michelle Hankinson, who started Hermiston’s community garden, Lovin’ Spadefuls, in 2011.

Presenter Nora Pratton described how Hankinson didn’t have any gardening experience but raised her hand and took on the project anyway, getting the land, irrigation, soil and other necessities donated.

Today the garden includes 80 plots that families, senior citizens and others use for only $10 per season, and Hankinson has become an accomplished gardener who teaches free community classes each March.

“She’s always thinking about the next step, what else might be possible,” Pratton said.

After reading the names of the educators of the year for the entire district, Hermiston School District Superintendent Tricia Mooney presented three awards: the Distinguished Alumnus award, Educator of the Year, and Administrator of the Year.

The Distinguished Alumna, Umatilla County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jaclyn Jenkins, thanked the community where she grew up.

“When I was in high school, many of my friends were dying to leave,” she said. “I was dying to stay. I love this community, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to come back and serve here.”

Jenkins graduated from Hermiston High School in 2001. She is the lead prosecutor for all sexual abuse cases, and works on most major crime cases that the county handles.

The Educator of the Year, Amber Utter, was not at the event, because she was out of town receiving work-related training. Utter is an instructional coach at the district. She provides group and one-on-one training for classroom teachers, focusing on mentoring first-year teachers and working with teachers and administrators on using iReady data. Utter has worked for the district for 11 years, and was previously a sixth grade teacher at Sandstone Middle School.

Jeff Kelso, the district’s technology manager, was named Hermiston’s Administrator of the Year. Kelso came to the district a little over a year ago. Mooney described Kelso’s quirkiness and sense of humor, and said he has “won the hearts and admiration of the entire staff.” She said he has improved the efficiency of district networks, and enthusiastically solves problems all around the district.

Kelso said he was grateful for the support of the staff and the school board.

“I’ve been in K-12 education for 17 years,” Kelso said. “My year and a half in Hermiston have been the best experience of my professional life.”

The Altrusa Outstanding Young Citizen Award went to Madison Wilson. Presenter Dawn Long described Wilson as having a heart for service and “integrity second to none.”

She said Wilson volunteers for Desert Rose Ministries and is taking Spanish classes so that she can better include Spanish-speaking members of the community.

“Her intent is always for people to feel seen, valued and appreciated,” Long said.

There was one person recognized Wednesday night who wasn’t on the program.

Debbie Pedro, who started a new job in January after 18 years as director of the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce, was given a bracelet and many kudos from the chamber’s board for her years of service to the chamber.


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