By Emily Stonehouse
The Kinmount Fair means many things; candy apples, games, vendors, rides.
But one of the most anticipated events each year is the announcement of Kinmount’s Citizen of the Year, presented by the Kinmount Lions Club.
“There was not a Citizen of the Year announced last year,” said Lions Club president JC Lagrange, referencing the uncertainty of the past years in light of the pandemic, “so we decided that this year, there should be two citizens recognized this year.”
The Citizen of the Year is a recognition of volunteer individuals who inspire others, and make the community a brighter place. “If there is a theme for the two winners this year, it would be adversity and tenacity,” said Lagrange.
The presentation was made on Sept. 1 at the Kinmount Fairgrounds, to kick off the 151st Kinmount Fair. Lagrange shared with the audience that the past few years have been trying for everyone. “We’ve all been perpetually worried,” he said.
This is why the celebration for Citizen of the Year was a sought after feel-good moment after the years of darkness.
Leading into the first award, Lagrange referenced Kinmount as an artistic community, filled with all types of artists from around the community. “But there’s one place they all meet,” said Lagrange, at which point, the audience members had an inkling about who the recipient was.
Lagrange went on to celebrate Darlene Mann, who he referred to as a “community minded artist.” After moving to Kinmount in 2004, Mann became heavily involved in the artistic community, helping former Artist Market manager Patti Fleury with coordination of the weekly vendors.
Mann was acknowledged for her irrevocable hard work when it came to market scheduling, decorating, bookkeeping, marketing, advertising, “and always being on-call” chuckled Lagrange.
It was noted that Mann was the reason that the Artisan Market stayed afloat during the COVID years, and while it is still gradually rebuilding, it is her determined leadership that brings hope for success in the future.
The second recipient of Citizen of the Year was based on a focus for physician recruitment in the community of Kinmount. “Doctors are the key to the health of our community,” said Lagrange, while the room buzzed with anticipation.
Alan Howard was celebrated as the second Citizen of the Year, as an instrumental figure in the recruitment of physicians.
Howard grew up in India and England, where he was involved in youth programs and camps. After moving to Kinmount in the 1990s, he jumped in with two feet when it came to honouring the community. He played a major part in the restoration of the sawmill in the heart of Kinmount, before returning to India to teach at a boarding school.
After returning to Kinmount, Howard joined the Kinmount District Health Services (KDHS) foundation, where he took the lead on physician recruitment. “He worked tirelessly, hours and days of the week, providing major updates to the website, communications, and marketing,” said Lagrange, sharing that if there were any leads on physicians, Howard would drive to the airport at any time to pick them up.
His efforts were met with success when Dr. Lesslie Ponraja joined the team in March of this year, providing primary physician care for the community.
Both recipients were provided with a plaque, and were celebrated over the duration of the Long Weekend in Kinmount.