Top citizens honored at annual Diamond Awards
December 9, 2008
A pioneer, a tireless advocate for the Boy Scouts and a high school student who volunteers at a soup kitchen in Seattle were among the Diamond Award recipients announced Nov. 12.
Milt Swanson, born in Newcastle 90 years ago, retired from working in the coalmines in 1962. A founder of the Historical Society of Newcastle, the Newcastle resident has not missed an opportunity to educate city officials, citizens and school children about the coal mining days of the city. Swanson was bestowed the Senior Award.
He was honored for sharing his knowledge of Newcastle’s history.
“Thank you, Mr. Swanson for keeping the vibrant history of our city alive,” Nancy Carlstrom, past president of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, said.
Bill Burris, leader of the Newcastle Boy Scout troop, was bestowed the Mayor’s Award.
“Bill gives of us time, not wanting the accolades that come with it,” said Newcastle Mayor Ben Varon.
The Youth Award is presented to a Newcastle youth 18 or younger who demonstrates uncommon initiative and caring, setting an example for his peers.
Paul Williams, an 18-year-old student at Newport High School, received the Youth Award for volunteering at the soup kitchen at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Seattle. His aptitude for community service led him to volunteer to coach soccer at Newcastle Elementary School.
Two people were bestowed the Community Service Award — Peggy Price, who worked to complete the Terrace Trails for the Newcastle Trails Association, and John Jensen, who was instrumental in growing the chamber of commerce and for organizing candidate forums.
“Peggy has given over 800 hours to the Terrace Trail project, both in doing the work herself and in overseeing other trail volunteers,” Stemler said. “Without her continued work — in rain, sun and everything in between — the Terrace Trail would not have been completed this year.”
Jensen was lauded for his communication skills and for making certain all sides of an issue are represented at candidate forums.
“This year, as in the one four years ago, he organized the candidate forum so that the residents could meet the political candidates and learn face-to-face what the issues were and where folks stood,” Stemler said.
In his acceptance speech, Jensen thanked the original founders of the chamber.
“Jim Price, Giles Velte and Brian Baird, they kept the chamber alive in the early years,” Jensen said.
Lynn Bissett, a PTA member at Newcastle Elementary, and Jana Dalpez, an orchestra teacher at Maywood Middle School and Liberty High School, both won the Education Award.
Carlstrom presented the Senior and Education awards.
Bissett continues to be an inspiration to students, staff members and parents at the school, Carlstrom said.
“As a one-woman dynamo, Lynn is sure that everything that comes under her charge is pulled off without a hitch,” she said. “Everyone at Newcastle Elementary feels very fortunate to have Lynn tirelessly donate her energy in support of all of their outstanding programs.”
Dalpez was honored for her work at Maywood and Liberty.
“Jana Dalpez is the type of teacher that all parents want for their children,” Carlstrom said. “As an instructor in orchestra, she has an unstoppable drive to improve the talents of her students.”
The Business Award was bestowed to Dave Franklin, Jackie Maples and Damu Maples, the owners of Newcastle Fruit Stand.
“The fruit stand is such an asset to our community,” Stemler said.
About 75 people attended the awards ceremony at the St. Andrews Ballroom of The Golf Club at Newcastle.
2008 Diamond Award nominees
Mayor’s Award: Bill Burris
Business: Newcastle Fruit Stand
Youth: Paul Williams
Senior: Milt Swanson
Education: Michelle McKee
Suzi O’Brien, Kim Bales, Lynn Bissett, Jana Dalpez
Darrell Van Amen, Suzi O’Byrne, Brent Wingerson, Tracy Haselman, Jules Maas, Peggy Price, John Jensen