IDAHO FALLS -- Mayor Rebecca Casper presented 10 Mayor’s choice awards to individuals and organizations during Thursday night’s City Council meeting.
The Mayor’s Choice Awards were created as a way to recognize outstanding residents, businesses, organizations, efforts or community figures for contributions to the city, noteworthy accomplishments, or other achievements. The awards are presented once a year, at the discretion of the Mayor, generally in January.
This year’s recipients are:
- Kevin Call – Outstanding Community Spirit Award
- Donovan Stokes – Outstanding Community Builder Award
- Greater Idaho Falls Police Foundation – Outstanding Philanthropic Contribution Award
- Karen Leibert – Outstanding Community Education Award
- Jeff Carr – Outstanding Community Education Award
- David Adler -- Outstanding Community Education Award
- Juan Contreras – Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award
- Judy and Jim Seydel -- Outstanding Community Enrichment Award
- Chaplains of Idaho – Outstanding Community Commitment Award
- Greater Idaho Falls Transit - Easy Rider Award
“There are so many wonderful, caring organizations and people in this community,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “We want to recognize some of them for their remarkable contributions and add a little more light by sharing some of the great and selfless acts of service. We are grateful to this year’s recipients and look forward to recognizing others in the future.”
Call was recognized for his years of dedicated efforts to help the community. Call’s smile and love for Idaho Falls and sharing of great ice cream and candy can be seen at the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race, celebrations for the Idaho Falls Bandits, the Fourth of July Parade, the Idaho Falls Interfaith Council and many other events.
Stokes worked tirelessly for months to enrich the lives of youth by raising nearly $140,000 to build a new playground at the Idaho Falls YMCA. His love and dedication to youth development in our community don’t stop there, as he has found ways to support the next generation of leaders in Idaho Falls through various programs. Stokes is continuing his efforts by raising funds to improve the YMCA’s indoor sports complex.
The Greater Idaho Falls Police Foundation was created in 2020 to support local law enforcement to make southeast Idaho an even safer place to live, work and play. In 2022, the foundation helped the Idaho Falls Police Department K-9 Program as well as funded and hosted a specialized officer mental health training event.
In the past year, the world’s attention has been drawn to the conflict in Ukraine. Carr, Leibert and Alder have combined their unique areas of expertise to come together through the Alturas Institute to tell the stories that need to be told. Their timely educative events have brought important education about how the events in Ukraine impact life right here in Idaho Falls.
Juan Contreras and the other volunteers who prepare Thanksgiving Dinner at the Salvation Army fill the stomachs and bring joy to hundreds of people each year. Contreras and a handful of others show up year after year to help those who otherwise might otherwise go hungry each Thanksgiving.
For years, Judy and Jim Seydel have been instrumental in establishing and beautifying the Japanese Friendship Garden. Judy has personally put in well over 2000 hours of her own time and money with the support of her husband Jim. Their personal dedication and talents have helped shape the Japanese Garden into the beautiful community gem that it is today.
Chaplains of Idaho was founded in 2020 to fill a much-needed void at the scene of tragedies in our community. The non-profit organization trains volunteers to assist first responders and help provide families with resources during and after traumatic events. Some of the chaplains also help first responders who may need a shoulder to lean on following a particularly challenging call.
Greater Idaho Falls Transit (GIFT) hit the ground running in March 2022, adding affordable and on-demand public transportation to Idaho Falls. The GIFT Board and Transit Coordinator Kade Marquez have used an out-of-the-box solution to fix Idaho Falls’ transportation gap. To date, more than 44,000 people have utilized the service, including the elderly, disabled and everyday Idaho Falls citizens. City Council President Michelle Ziel-Dingman, who serves as the board chair, has also been instrumental in bringing the program to fruition.
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