By JENNIFER PASSARO
Smiles abounded at the annual Post Falls Chamber of Commerce Recognition Gala Thursday.
Pat Knight, chief for the Post Falls Police Department, received the highest honor bestowed at the gala, 2020 Citizen of the Year.
“Citizen of the year selection is based on overall contribution to Post Falls to benefit the community at large,” Post Falls Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Jerry Lyon said. “This year’s recipient has served his country and his community. His volunteer involvement spans both business and nonprofit efforts, the impact of 25 years in the community is immeasurable.”
Knight served as a member of the United States Marine Corps from 1990 to 1994. He then returned home to North Idaho working for the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office as a marine deputy and then for the Post Falls Police Department as a patrol officer, taking on various roles until he was appointed chief of police in 2018.
“You look at the list of recipients in the years behind us and I don’t deserve to be on that list,” Knight said. “My goodness those are some really committed, quality people. You just take a lot of pride in being on that list with them.”
Knight graduated from the FBI National Academy. He currently serves on the board of Make-A-Wish Idaho and as a wish granter. He volunteers with the Young Lives organization and the Holiday and Heroes program.
“He leads by example in his personal and professional endeavors and is respected by young and old,” Lyon said.
“I credit all of it to the team,” Knight said.
Knight leads 72 sworn officers and civilian personnel, as well as 14 volunteers at the police department.
“We’ve got such a fantastic team that does such a good job of caring for the community and working with the community, I just want to continue what we’ve got going,” Knight said. “I think the city as a whole is doing a great job. Let’s continue doing that.”
Division Chief of Administration for Kootenai County Fire and Rescue, Jessie Morrow, received the Volunteer of the Year award.
“A Post Falls Chamber board member, Post Falls Rotarian, chair of the Reverse Job Fair, Meals on Wheels and St. Vincent de Paul Souport Homeless Luncheon volunteer who actively supports the Holiday and Heroes and Christmas for All programs, to name just a few,” Lyon said. “She worked her way up from bookkeeper to division chief of administration at Kootenai County Fire and Rescue and engages professionally in work-related committees. Her caring and capable dedication to the community and organizations which serve the public is exemplary.”
Every year the chamber accepts nominations for several months leading up to the gala event. A nominating committee assembled from past award winners reviews each nomination and selects an award winner.
Recognized for being a business of action, generosity, and service on behalf of the Post Falls community, 20-year executive member of the Chamber, bankcda received the Business of the Year award.
“This business continually exemplifies excellence on a professional level as well as displaying a culture of service to the public,” Lyon said. “They are the only locally owned bank in Post Falls.”
“We had some terrific nominations this year, but the committee unanimously voted for each of the award recipients who were honored tonight,” Jamé Davis, CEO of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce, said. “This is a wonderful tradition that goes back to 1995 and the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to preserving the legacy set by our past leaders and inspiring future generations to get involved, volunteer, and prioritize their time and resources to important causes in our community.”
The Triple C VIPs: Deb Wheeler, Sherry Wallis, Mindy Hatcher, Amy Boni, Andrea Fulks, Kay Polland, and Tonya Meyers joyously received the Spirit of Post Falls award. The group provides support for local nonprofits.
“Their volunteer efforts have assisted 11 nonprofits in raising nearly $2 million,” Lyon said. “Charitable events that include an auction have benefited from the expertise and generosity of seven women who volunteer to register bidders, collect and record sales and overall streamline the process for nonprofits.”
The Post Falls Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Post Falls Food Bank and The Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County, as each organization honored a volunteer of the year and a business of the year.
“The Third Avenue Market at the Post Falls Food Bank sees 100 families shop every day,” Lyon said. “Through the food bank market the members are shown dignity.”
The Post Falls Food Bank volunteer of the year, Maureen Frame, donated over 1,100 hours of service in the past three years.
“There have been many times when the food bank has been unexpectedly short of volunteers and had to reach out to [Maureen],” Erik Brock, vice chair of the Post Falls Food Bank Board of Directors, said. “Almost without exception she would stop what she was doing and come to help.”
“She once shared her reason for her kindness,” Brock said. “I don’t know what has happened in our guests’ day before they come into the shop, I don’t know what will happen once they leave our doors, but while they’re here it is my job to let them know they are cared for.”
Frame frequently brings her teenage grandchildren with her to volunteer.
“She is mentoring the next generation on the value and blessings that go along with giving,” Brock said.
First Interstate Bank in Post Falls received the Post Falls Food Bank business of the year award.
“First Interstate Bank has been a huge financial support, as well as giving their employees the time to volunteer here,” Deb Pumarejo, executive assistant and volunteer coordinator for the Post Falls Food Bank, said. “They purchased a fork lift for us. They’ve invested in the food bank. The employees have really supported the food bank in many ways.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County selected Capt. Jason Mealer of the Post Falls Police Department as their volunteer of the year.
“He came to us in 2018 and wanted to revive a DARE program, Communities that Care,” Ryan Davis, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County said.
The 12-week program fostered conversation with youths at the club about difficult subjects like cyber bullying, drugs, and alcohol. Mealer led the program for two full cycles.
“We want to recognize him for dedication to the community, but especially to the club,” Davis said. “Rarely do we have the opportunity where folks come to us and say hey we want to do a program. He made it a simple process and we appreciate that.”
Northwest Specialty Hospital received the club’s business of the year award.
“Northwest Specialty Hospital has been supporting us since day one,” Davis said. “They supported both our capital campaigns to build the Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene sites.”
The hospital also provides space for the Boys and Girls Club to hold their board meetings and they host an annual food and wine pairing event.
“It’s a great fundraiser for us to continue to run programs,” Davis said. “CEO Rick Rasmussen has really driven this, along with Barb Patton, Dr. Bret Dirks, and the whole team at Northwest Specialty Hospital, they have stepped up in every possible way to make sure the Boys and Girls Club succeeds in every possible way.”