By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
It’s that time of year again in Picture Butte. On Jan. 15, the Picture Butte and District Chamber of Commerce will present Roelof and Diny Scholten with the 33rd Citizen of the Year Award.
According to the chamber, the first award was given out in 1984 to Harry Watson and many deserving individuals or groups in between.
Also being presented with awards at this year’s annual celebration includes Employer of the Year Rocky Mountain Equipment/Hi Way Service/Watson Farm Supply, for Customer Service Kosters Bakery and the award for New Business will be awarded to Picture Butte Hotel. Gus Buytels and Katie Forster from the chamber were e-mailed, in regards to the upcoming awards banquet.
Nominations, the chamber said, were accepted beginning in early November for the citizen and business of the year awards and the applications were reviewed by a committee.
When considering a Citizen of the Year nomination, the chamber noted, the committee reflects on community involvement, volunteering, and overall contribution to the town. For the New Business Award, the chamber recognizes a new business in town, either storefront or home-based, or a new owner of an existing business. For the Customer Service Award, the chamber chooses a business demonstrating a positive attitude and excellence towards customers. Some of the criteria includes: Is the business aesthetically pleasing? Is the service professional, pleasant, efficient? And, the Employer of the Year Award recognizes employers promoting community involvement, employ locally, attract youth to the local work force and bring in new people and a show of pride of ownership.
According to the chamber, the chamber’s goal is to keep the community thriving by offering support and leadership to new and existing members.
Over the years, the chamber has helped with many events in the Town of Picture Butte including organizing political forums (both provincial and federal), retail late night shopping, the Jamboree Days parade and the town’s recent Midnight Madness. The chamber said, as an organization, it is always looking for new ideas from the citizens of Picture Butte and members.
In 2016, the chamber plans to contribute to the same events as last year, where possible, and the chamber wants to ensure new and existing members are informed of the many benefits available to them — some of which include insurance plan options, discounted banking offers and rates and much more.
The chamber said it is available in the community to help answer any questions and support when needed. To contact the chamber call 403-732-4302 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Picture Butte, the chamber said, has a healthy business environment and the local organization looks to continue to provide solutions and support, as needed.
Diny Scholten said it was a very humbling experience being nominated for Citizen of the Year and she and her husband are honoured to receive the award and this is the first time the couple has received such a prestigious award.
Diny said the Scholten family lived on a farm four miles west and one mile north of the town for many years but moved to the Town of Picture Butte in 2000.
Diny noted she has been involved with the Bibles For Missions Thrift Store in Lethbridge for over 15 years.
“I volunteer there,” she added. She was also a volunteer for Alberta Health Services’ flu clinics for many years, a Meals On Wheels co-ordinator for 15 years, has helped seniors in their homes with every day challenges and Diny has been an integral part of the Ag Society’s annual bench show fair for 13 years and she canvassed for the Kidney Foundation over the years. Plus, the Scholten’s raised six children on top of years of volunteer service.
Diny said she is very happy living in the community and the community has been very supportive to her and her family.
Diny said, when younger, her children were involved with hockey and other activities and she and her husband tried to be involved, as best as they could, attending events and helping out.
According to Diny, giving back to the community is rewarding. “And, it’s really special,” she said, adding in the past her hobbies included curling and clogging and over the years she also volunteered reading bible stories in Shaughnessy and knit baby toques for the hospital.
Roelof said being nominated as Citizen of the Year has been an overwhelming surprise.
“We didn’t expect it and we were kind of wondering if we deserved it or not. But, it’s much appreciated. We’ve been in Picture Butte, within five miles, for 66 years. The people of Picture Butte have been very good to us. I was blessed with a beautiful wife and a wonderful family. The good Lord blessed us in many, many ways. In Picture Butte, the citizens and the people we could volunteer with were willing to accept us the way we are, which was very rewarding,” he noted.
According to Roelof, he farmed for 40 years, after taking over farming duties from his dad in 1962. His dad started farming in the area in 1953, after coming to Lethbridge County from Holland in 1949. Roelof has also worked with the local Picture Butte and District Ag Society for 20 years, as president.
“We support the bench fair, the beef and the dairy programs, we do a scholarship for the high school and support the 4-H clubs, and we support the Prairie Tractor Engine Museum,” he said, adding over the years the society also put on the annual Jamboree Days parade, which has now been taken over by the Picture Butte and District Chamber of Commerce due to a decline in volunteers.
When Roelof was chamber president in the late 1980s, he was sent to Ottawa to try and save the beet industry, along with another 50 people.
Roelof said the community has been supportive of he and Diny and his parents, when they arrived to the area and needed to learn the English language. And, community members were always patient with the family, as they went about doing business in the town. Even helping out with credit, when the banks couldn’t help.
“We were accepted in the community. They trusted us and they were willing to do business with us. We’ve had a good communication with the town and the surrounding area. We just want to, for the many blessings we’ve received in our lifetime, we want to give something back to the community,” Roelof said.
“The biggest gift would probably be, if we’ve improved Picture Butte by that much. As a community that works together, it parties together and it stands up for one another when difficult times come and when people pass away or so. This community stands together and is willing to support one another, regardless of what kind of background we come from,” he added.
Roelof served as vice-chairman of the WWII Veterans’ Appreciation Day for several years, served on town council, was involved with hosting the Summer Games in town in the 1990s, was president of the Picture Butte and District Transportation Society and Roelof enjoys restoring antique tractors and helps out at Coyote Flats Pioneer Village.