Rotary Club celebrates 50 years with first responders

By Tracy McNew

Service Above Self is Rotary’s motto, so to celebrating the local Rotary club’s 50th Anniversary, event organizer Ted Werner couldn’t think of a better way to do it than by honoring others who subscribe to the same motto.
Werner called them “the best of the best” on Saturday night when five first responders were honored for their dedication to service with plaques and a celebration complete with cowboy hats, live bluegrass music and a chuck wagon themed dinner.
Well over 100 people attended the event that was held in the Libby VFW hall. “The First Responder Round Up was a success,” said Rotary board member Mick Shea, “the honorees are appreciative of what we’re doing, and they certainly deserve recognition.”
The event was so well received that the club plans to make honoring local first responders an annual tradition and they even hope to expand it to Troy.
The Libby Rotary club became the Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley about five years ago, the name change was meant to encompass both Libby and Troy. Club members hail from both communities and many of the club’s service projects benefit both communities as well.
Although most members are from Libby, the club sends students from both Libby and Troy to a leadership camp each summer and they award scholarships to seniors from both Libby and Troy Public Schools as well.
“We wanted to start small this year,” said Werner, “but we hope to include other organizations and first responders beyond Libby in the future.”
After an introduction and description of the club’s past accomplishments and planned projects, Libby’s mayor, Brent Teske did the honor of introducing each organization and who in attendance was representing it. Plaques were presented by peers to each honoree some with a speech and some with just a few words of thanks.
Each of the five organizations honored was asked in advance to choose among themselves who would receive the “Best of the Best” recognition so that the honors came from peers that really understand their dedication rather than outsiders.
The Libby Volunteer Ambulance Service honored Vince Brown for his outstanding service. Darren Short was honored by the Libby Police Department, Charlene Williamson was the honoree chosen by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Valerie Albert was recognized by David Thompson Search and Rescue, and the Libby Volunteer Fire Department chose to have their award honor the entire crew of volunteer firemen.

Awardees joined Rotarians on stage to snap a 50th anniversary commemorative photo before Boulder Creek Blue Grass took the stage to round out the night.
Rotary would like to thank everyone who volunteers to serve their community and everyone who generously supports the club’s work.
Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley’s projects include providing dictionaries to all Lincoln County third grade students, giving books and book cases to Head Start students in need, hosting Trunk or Treat, bringing Shakespeare in the Park and Missoula Children’s Theatre to Libby, and participating in an international student exchange program.
The club also sponsored the splash pad at Fireman’s Park, and helped pave around the kids fishing pond in Libby. They have a youth service club called Interact, and they do work on an international scale bringing water to communities in Guatemala as well as working to eradicate polio worldwide.
For more information visit libbyrotary.org or attend a club meeting on Mondays at noon at the Venture Inn.