Sequim readies pick for Citizen of the Year award

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– A dedicated school volunteer, an organizer of Sequim’s centennial celebration and a longtime Dungeness Valley farmer and advocate for water conservancy are finalists for the 2013 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award.

Al Friess, Patsy Mattingley and Gary Smith were selected as finalists by a panel of past Citizens of the Year.

One will be announced as the 2013 selection at a noon luncheon Tuesday at SunLand Golf & Country Club, 109 Hilltop Drive.

The Citizen of the Year will be honored with a plaque and the title, which was first awarded in 1967.

Runners-up will be given the chamber’s Community Service Award.

Last year’s honor went to Kevin Kennedy, a co-founder of the Irrigation Festival’s logging show.

Al Friess

Friess was nominated for the second year in a row by Patsene Dashiell, community liaison for the Sequim School District.

He received the chamber’s Community Service Award last year.

“Al has been the instigator of many ventures designed to benefit others, mainly young people,” Dashiell said.

A member of Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club, Sequim Education Foundation, SunLand Water District, Citizens for Sequim Schools and Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, Friess also reads weekly to third-grade students at Greywolf Elementary School.

Friess, who worked for Corning Inc. for 34 years, referred to a slogan from the company in his efforts to organize programs in the Sequim community.

“Imagine what we can do together,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this community. Most things happen because we imagine what we can do and get together to do it.”

Friess and wife, Virginia Herweh, have been married 57 years. The couple have two children and five grandchildren.

Patsy Mattingley

Mattingley was nominated by Bobbie Usselman, deputy clerk for the city.

Musselman hailed the former preschool teacher for her efforts in organizing last year’s celebration of Sequim’s 100th birthday, particularly her work in organizing the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Picnic.

“She even requested the perfect weather we had for the day,” Usselman joked.

“It was a fantastic event.”

Mattingley has long been active with the Sequim City Band — helping guide construction of the James Center for Performing Arts, the Sequim Education Foundation — organizing its variety show fundraiser and the Dungeness Health and Wellness Clinic, and serves on the city’s parks and recreation board.

“My family’s always just believed in being active in the community,” said Mattingley, a Chicago native. “We like being volunteers.”

Mattingley moved to Sequim with her husband, Dave, in 1997. The couple have one grown daughter who lives in Washington, D.C.

“We like the small-town atmosphere. There’s a really good group of busy people trying to make this place better,” Mattingley said.

Gary Smith

Smith was nominated by Joe Holtrop, director of the Clallam Conservation District.

Holtrop praised the longtime dairyman for his efforts to lead the Dungeness Valley’s agricultural irrigators in implementing conservation measures that have reduced their use of water by thousands of acre feet.

“These conservation achievements have resulted in increased flows in the Dungeness River, thus improved habitat for threatened and endangered salmon,” Holtrop said.

Smith has overseen his family’s Maple Valley Farms with his wife, Janice, since 1970.

The farm is now one of just two production dairies left in the valley once populated with as many as 90 dairies.

“I’ve often felt guilty about not being more active in the community,” Smith said.

“But I think maintaining this farm is a little contribution to the health of the valley.”

He said his work on water conservation is closely tied to helping preserve the area’s agricultural heritage and production.

“I think in the past, there’s been a bit of indifference about the way we use our water,” he said.

“This says to me the community is really trying to get this figured out in a way that works for everybody.”

Smith served as past president for the Dungeness Agricultural Water Users Association and the Sequim Prairie Tri-Irrigation Co., and was on the board of directors for Farm Credit Services.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 22. 2014 5:22PM
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