DEWITT — Over 150 individuals were recently honored by the city of DeWitt for their volunteer work through the years, including three people with over 40 years of volunteer service — John Hanrahan and Verlyn Scheckel.
DeWitt City Administrator Steve Lindner — along with DeWitt City Council members Garey Chrones and Luanne Smith — organized and held at the end of February a ceremony to honor and thank them for their service.
Lindner credited the city of Manchester’s city manager, Tim Vick, for the idea to hold a volunteer-recognition ceremony.
“I thought it was a great idea and brought back to discuss with the mayor and council and they were very much in favor, because honestly we have not done a good job in recognizing the great people that volunteer on our committees, commissions, boards and other ad hoc committees.”
Lindner addressed the people in attendance: “I am here to thank you — the city simply cannot operate without you. Volunteers represent the community in creating policy and guidance for our library and Parks & Recreation Department. They direct land use and help reasonably enforce land use policies. Volunteers write grants, bring culture and entertainment to our community, [and] plan on how to make our downtown beautiful. Volunteers provide the extra effort needed to carry out community events or facilitate large public improvement projects. Volunteers protect us [by responding] to fires and accidents; they help keep us safe. The city cannot do it without you, and the benefit to the DeWitt Community is invaluable.”
Linder explained volunteers also function as liaisons between city government and the citizens that help build trust and social capital.
“In a day when people are pulling back, doing less with friends, neighbors, and other residents, you are leaving your homes working with others face to face, having real conversations and discussions. You cannot have community online, and I greatly appreciate your commitment to real things that have real value. Whether it is telling someone where they cannot put their fence, or asking someone for money, or responding to an emergency in the middle of the night. These are not easy things to do, yet you all do them for nothing in return.”
Some of the individuals honored at the ceremony include:
n 40 or more years of service: Verlyn Scheckel (zoning board of adjustments, police reserves, fire department, city council) and John Hanrahan (Zoning Board of Adjustments.)
n 30 or more years: Juian Stahl (ZBA), Robert Hansen (Cemetery Board), and Arwin Petersen (CB).
n 20 or more years: John Davison, Dave Beuthien, and Zach Summers (fire department) Bill Andreesen (tree board), and Lee Pennigroth (police reserves).
n 15 or more years: Bob Sandry, Justin Atkinson and Andy Johnston (fire department), Katy Rollings (library), Paul Hill and Linda Duensing (housing authority commission).
n 10 or more years: Jason Green, Jeff Peters, Chad Stuhlman, Jim Clark, and Scott Besst (fire), Sarah Johnston (ZBA), Matt Grillot (ADA committee), Sara Lindner (library board), Scot Porth (tree board), Anita Ilg and Dave Deke (DeWitt Downtown Improvement District directors).
Lindner also recognized individuals who volunteered for many years but have since left their posts, including former fire chief John Burken, Bob Peters and George Dixon.