OREGON – Oregon’s newest Citizen of the Year was on his way to northern Wisconsin when the awards were presented at the annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner.
Roger Cain had no idea he was receiving the award. His first inkling came when one of the people with him started getting text messages to that effect.
“There’s very little cellphone service up there, and only one person with me had service at all,” he said, chuckling. “His cellphone started blowing up with text messages.”
The week before, Chamber Executive Director Debbie Dickson tried to convince him to postpone his trip north long enough to attend the dinner, he said.
“I definitely was surprised. I appreciate it,” he said. “I like working behind the scenes. I like working for this community, because it’s done so much for me.”
Dickson presented the award at the dinner Thursday at the Oregon Fire Station.
“Always working silently, stealthily behind the scenes, and never one to seek recognition for efforts invested, this ‘semi-retired’ lifelong citizen of Oregon has contributed to quality of life as a business owner and as a volunteer in our community for more than 40 years,” she said before announcing his name.
Cain is founder of Cain Millwork in Rochelle, a member of the Oregon Together Black Hawk Restoration Team, a member of the Oregon Train Depot Museum board, worked with the Bike Ogle Initiative and is involved with the historic John Phelps Summer Kitchen relocation project.
The recipient of the Business of the Year was also almost a no-show.
Jim Kaufman, owner of Oregon Super Valu, wasn’t sure how the dinner was going to fit into his hectic schedule.
His wife, Kim, however, had other ideas.
“When we got the invitation, he mentioned he didn’t know if we could go because of our schedule being busy,” she said. “I told him I had everything arranged and we were going.”
The honor was unexpected, Kaufman said.
“I was quite surprised. It was a great honor. I was thrilled with it.”
His wife agreed. “It was humbling. I’m very grateful to the community and the chamber. I’m very proud of everybody at the store and how hard they work every day.”
Dickson described the Kaufmans’ low-key but generous approach to doing business.
“For more than 40 years, this family-owned business has been an anchor in our midst, demonstrating a ‘quiet’ commitment to meeting the needs of our community,” she said. “Never seeking acknowledgement, thanks or recognition, this business has generously donated to more fundraisers, organizations, events, dinners, sports teams, and youth programs than any of us could ever fathom.”
The Civic Leadership Award went to local first responders and honored the Oregon Police Department, Oregon Fire Department, and Ogle County Sheriff’s Department.
Steve Rypkema was chosen Volunteer of the Year, and Hazel’s Cafe owner Candace Rivera was recognized with the Welcome to Oregon Award for a business fewer than 2 years old.