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North Bend celebrates 'embarrassment of riches' in volunteer spirit with the Kolkes, Nela Cumming

Citizen of the Year Nela Cumming, Director of Pediatric Therapy at Encompass, was recognized at the Jan. 15 North Bend City Council meeting, where Mayor Ken Hearing presented her with the award.  - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Citizen of the Year Nela Cumming, Director of Pediatric Therapy at Encompass, was recognized at the Jan. 15 North Bend City Council meeting, where Mayor Ken Hearing presented her with the award.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Citizens of North Bend celebrated their own Tuesday night, with the announcement of the city's Citizen of the Year and Business Owner of the Year awards.

Danny and Robyn Kolke, owners of Boxley's Place, were less-than surprised to be named Business Owners of the Year.

"I kind of knew the jig was up when I started seeing saw all my customers walking in," said Danny Kolke, laughing.

"Hey, they're my customers, too!" Mayor Ken Hearing, who presented the award, reminded him.

Actually, Kolke was very surprised and overwhelmed by the honor, saying, "We did not set out to win awards, in fact we didn't set out to do youth programs, we didn't set out to improve our community… I just love jazz, and I love food."

Among the Kolkes' many contributions to the city, Hearing listed their restaurant, their work with the school district including his directing the Twin Falls Jazz Band 2, establishing the Boxley's Music Fund to support jazz education and the Future Jazz Heads program giving students a chance to play with professional musicians like himself, the couple's dedicated support of community events like the Downtown Block Party, and their creation of new events like last September's jazz walk, and a proposed blues walk for this spring.

Citizen of the Year honors went to Encompass Director of Pediatric Therapy Nela Cumming, who did her best to avoid the spotlight -- one of the traits Hearing mentioned in his presentation.

"She has worked tirelessly to help other in many ways without seeking recognition for herself," Hearing said. "She is a very caring, selfless person who is working to make the community a better place for all of us."

Cumming accepted the award and a friend's bouquet with little fanfare, but when she saw her good friend Ellie rolling toward her, she said "Ellie!" and quickly emptied her hands to give the girl a warm hug.

Not only does Cumming help families through her work, she often volunteers at schools during her lunch breaks, and serves as a translator for local Spanish-speaking families. She is a long-time resident of the city, is active in community organizations, and, Hearing said, sets "a shining example of giving."

For City Administrator Londi Lindell who started with the city in May, the celebration was her first for Citizen of the Year. She told the council following the awards that North Bend has "It is truly an embarrassment of riches, the volunteerism in this town."

Nela Cumming gives a big hug to her friend Ellie, who came to congratulate her on being named Citizen of the Year.

Danny and Robyn Kolke, owners of Boxley's Place, received the North Bend Business Owners of the Year Award for 2012, with Danny's father, Daniel.

 

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