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Rooney named Citizen of Year for 2013

 

Greg Knight

Jeff Rooney, Sr., seen here with his family, was awarded the 2013 Citizen of The Year award during the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce dinner and auction on Friday, April 19.

For Jeff Rooney, Sr., a longtime employee of the Wrangell Public Works Department and head coach of the Wrangell High School Wolves wrestling team, getting up at the crack of dawn to clean our streets or work on an important project is just something he does – and has done for years – without any major recognition or awards.

That changed last weekend as the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce held their annual dinner and auction at the Nolan Center.

Rooney, who was nominated by a number of local residents as the chamber’s 2013 Citizen of The Year, sat silently with his family, though nearly tearing up as Christie Jamieson read an amalgamation of letters sent in for Rooney’s nomination and eventual win.

“I have seen Jeff faithfully serve in his work capacity time and time again,” one letter read. “During times of snowstorms, when I am sledding and snow machining with my kids, I can see this individual forfeiting his family time to ensure our community’s road safety. Not only does he keep our roads safe, he does a great job. It never seems to matter if it is a weekday or a weekend, morning or night, Jeff Rooney is always on call to serve our town. His attitude of sacrifice isn’t limited to his work. Jeff embodies a heart to love the kids of Wrangell.”

Another letter read quite the same and extolled Rooney’s tenure as a coach to the wrestlers of Wrangell.

“Jeff is the head wrestling coach for the high school and has taught our children how to be respectful and reliable,” the letter stated. “He also heads up the Wolf Pack wrestling program for Parks and Recreation for our K through 5th grade kids; teaching good sportsmanship and the ability to overcome adversity. He is out of the public eye for the most part and, I believe, is highly overlooked for all he does for all of us. Mr. Rooney has shown how hard work and dedication combined makes a powerful tool in the path to success.”

Before the awards ceremony, Diane Blumer, the State Commissioner for Labor and Workforce Development spoke to the nearly 200 guests about her plans to implement training and career skills among the youth of Alaska.

“Tim Rooney talked me into coming today to talk about the great programs we’re looking at doing with the youth,” Blumer said. “We have a couple of programs that are happening across the state and I really want to see more of the kids in Southeast Alaska take part as well. One of those programs is the “Youth First” program we are doing in some of the fish processing plants here in Southeast. We’re also working on a culinary arts program for our younger Alaskans.”

After the event was finished, Chamber director John Taylor said he was pleased with the turnout and the way the night shaped up.

“I think our attendance at our 2013 dinner was very good and we packed a lot of events into the evening,” he said.

One of those events was the dessert auction. It was during that portion of the evening’s events that a cheesecake made by Borough Manager Tim Rooney was auctioned off for $200 to local contractor Todd White.

White was also a nominee for Citizen of The Year along with Don McConachie, Cinda Stough, Carrie McCormack, Renata Davies and Jackie Dozier.

The Young Leader of The Year award went to Mikayla Stokes. There were five nominees for the award and included Stokes, Sam Prysunka, Helen Decker, Matt Covalt and Haley Reed.

One of the most special awards of the night, the Special Achievement award, went to Kim Covalt, who is retiring from the Wrangell Parks and Recreation Department.

Tim Rooney made the presentation to Covalt, saying rather humorously, “It all began a long, long, long time ago in Muncie, Ind. 60 years ago. I know this not because I raided his personnel file earlier today, but by flipping through the Wrangell Sentinel this morning and discovering his picture on page four of the paper. Did you see the picture? If not, it’s right here! Pass it around and look at this picture folks. Kim, you were a cute kid. What happened?”

Greg Knight

Borough Manager Tim Rooney presents the Special Achievement award to Kim Covalt at the dinner.

Rooney then went on to praise Covalt for his service to Wrangell beyond his workday.

“In addition to his hard work for the City, Kim remains active as a member of the Salmon Derby Committee for the Chamber of Commerce, the Elks, and more importantly, serves as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church,” Rooney said. “Kim is compassionate, caring and cooperative and is oftentimes available to lend a hand whenever he is called upon. Kim is always looking for a way to make things better.”

The Teacher of The Year award went to Bob Davis of Stikine Middle School. Others nominated were Brian Merritt, Laura Davies and Patty Gilbert. Darlene Harding was named as Chamber Member of The Year, with City Market taking Business of The Year. Bear Basics and Breakaway Adventures were also nominated for the business award.

 

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