Cities can never have enough Citizens of the Year
Right on the heels of Hollywood’s Golden Globes and Oscars came Burien’s awards season.
Discover Burien and the city of Burien used to jointly give out annual awards but now they present dueling honors.
The Highline Times presents its own “Robby Award.” The 7th annual award this year went to Sterling Bank Burien branch manager Lynda Isernio for her outstanding professionalism and community service.
That’s OK. You can never have too many citizens of the year. Volunteers are the lifeblood of a community.
My mom did lots of community service in her time. She often volunteered to find volunteers.
Listening in on her phone conversations as a kid, I learned the fine art of volunteer procurement.
I discovered that in fishing for volunteers, the most important thing is “the ask.” But it can’t come right away:
“Oh, I’m sorry.
“And how’s little Bobby?
“I wouldn’t worry about that, Eric finally outgrew it.”
After about 15 minutes of this softening up, Mom moved in for the kill.
Burien’s Lance and Laurie Haslund persuaded Marge and me to volunteer for Burien Arts at last Saturday’s Highline Classic Jazz Festival. Lanceandlaurie, as they are called, have discovered Marge apparently has a knack for selling raffle tickets.
Municipal staffers have figured out that volunteers can save a city time and money.
For instance, Maureen Hoffmann. Maureen had a terrific idea. Wouldn’t it be great if residents got together once month on a Sunday to walk around Burien? It would it be wonderful exercise and a way to enjoy new neighborhoods. Also it would get people together to chat and they might even stop for coffee at a Burien business on a slow Sunday afternoon.
Normally, an idea like this would go to the city and be routed to the parks department. They would need to study it, see if it fits their mission and find funds in the budget. They’d have to run it past the Parks Commission, the City Manager and maybe the City Council. And, of course, they would have to staff it on a weekend. And what about the city’s liability issues?
Instead, Maureen just sends out a notice once a month with a map that usually printed in the local media and people gather to for a Walk n’ Talk.
Michael Noakes’ database of Burien marine shoreline properties also could save the city a lot on consulting fees. He also appears to have an almost encyclopedic memory of each Puget Sound property between Shorewood and Three Tree Point.
Noakes was just named as the city of Burien’s co-citizen of the year.
He was recognized for his prodigious work helping to forge a compromise between the city and the state Department of Ecology on Burien’s Shoreline Master Plan update. Noakes first started working on the proposed plan as chair of the Burien Marine Property Owners Association.
When DOE staffers rejected Burien’s 20-foot setback requirement for Puget Sound homeowners as too lenient, instead of threatening to lawyer up, Noakes and other ad hoc committee members found a compromise. It acknowledges that not all marine properties are alike. The deal has not been formally accepted but chances of a deal look good.
Burien’s other top citizen is Diana DiFiore, who has served on the arts commission since 2007. DiFiore hosted artist Augustina Droze last summer for the painting of the colorful mural across from the library/city hall.
On some days, Droze, DiFiore and other volunteers spent 14 hours creating the mural.
Discover Burien also gave out yearly awards. Highline High student body president Sierra Flanagan was named student leader, Denise Ferguson was named Discover Burien volunteer and Alestaire Echavia received Team Clean Sweep recognition.
Navos CEO David Johnson accepted the non-profit of the year award on behalf of his organization. That comes right after Johnson’s national “Visionary Leader” award.
Named business leader of the year was Scott Schaefer, who runs a local media company and blog. Having run into him around town while covering events I know he works really hard and genuinely deserves the award.
He’s had his blog for a few years now. In 2012, Burien commissioned a scientific survey of residents and asked them where they get their local news. All blogs, including our highlinetimes.com, the Burien Daily and Schaefer’s blog, came in number seven as a news source named by 10 percent. Overwhelmingly number one at 31 percent was the local paper/Highline Times.
So, as we’ve been doing for more than 60 years, we will continue to be your prime source for local news and to spotlight the volunteers who do so much for our community.