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Hubbard County Outstanding Seniors honored for their achievements

SHANNON GEISEN/ENTERPRISE Pat Roehl and Paul Dove were selected as 2016 Hubbard County Outstanding Seniors due to their community service.

Pat Roehl and Paul Dove were named 2016 Outstanding Hubbard County Senior Citizens.

The accolade was announced Friday – "Senior Day" at the county fair – during a ceremony.

The title puts Roehl and Dove in the running at the Minnesota State Fair, where two seniors will be recognized as Minnesota’s Outstanding Senior Citizens on Thursday, Sept. 1.

Out of a pool of nominees from each county, the state winners are chosen for their outstanding commitment to community service since reaching the age of 65.

At Friday’s festivities, Karen Lenius, representing the Hubbard County Council on Aging, explained that nominations are solicited from individuals, agencies and organizations.

Judging is based on the number and diversity of volunteer contributions. The nominee must be age 70 by June 1.

Roehl was nominated by Theora Goodrich, who wrote in her nomination letter, "If you don’t know Pat Roehl, you must not live in Hubbard County! Pat is definitely well-known by young and old alike, primarily through her volunteering."

Both Goodrich and Roehl volunteer with the CHI St. Joseph’s Health Auxiliary, where Roehl has contributed 10 to 20 hours monthly for more than a decade.

"Pat has been involved in every major annual fundraiser the hospital auxiliary has, from making krumkake for our Cookie Walk to waiting tables for our chicken dinner to making goodie bags for our style show to chairing our Festival of Tables, our largest fundraiser," Goodrich said.

Roehl will be auxiliary president in October 2016.

Carrie Hitchcock also wrote a letter of support, noting that Roehl worked as an education aide in a variety of capacities for over 20 years at the Nevis School. Roehl also served on the Nevis School Board for six years.

"Her love of children is evident," Goodrich agreed. Roehl tutored students in the Alternative Room or just talked to students who were having problems.

"She’s helped so many Nevis kids graduate," said Chris Kendall, Roehl’s daughter, at Friday’s ceremony. "They shout her name at graduation: ‘Thank you, Mrs. Roehl!’"

Since her retirement, Roehl has remained involved at the school. She’s been a Kinship Reading Buddy for three years. She helps with the school newsletter, screens kids for vision and hearing and fills in as office help.

Roehl teamed up with the Nevis health teacher to instruct students how to knit lap robes for Heritage Living Center residents.

Goodrich wanted to nominate Roehl for the Outstanding Senior Award last year, "but I wouldn’t let her," Roehl said. "She didn’t give me a choice this year."

Paul Dove was nominated by city councilmember Rod Nordberg.

"Since Paul and his wife, Pat, moved to Park Rapids, they have led the creation of a thriving arts community in Park Rapids and the surrounding area," wrote Nordberg. "Paul’s energy, commitment, enthusiasm and ideas have inspired others to follow his lead and generated many new projects and events."

A retired music professor, Dove co-founded the Northern Light Opera Company in 2001. He serves as music director of the theatre’s annual productions.

Dove also co-founded the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, an umbrella organization for 16 arts and cultural organizations. He proposed the Medici Project, which provides financial support for qualified young artists.

"Through Paul’s leadership and vision, PRLAAC has created other arts events, including Art Leap (a driving tour of artists’ studios and other cultural destinations), Red Bridge Film Festival, Noon Hour Concert Series, Youth Music and Art Showcase, Arts Downtown PR (third Thursdays) and, starting in 2016, The Great American Story," wrote Nordberg.

In addition, Dove was instrumental in creating the Park Rapids Community Development Corporation, working with a local developer to remodel Armory Square into a regional art center.

"This group successfully lobbied the Minnesota Legislature to provide $2.5 million for the city of Park Rapids to apply toward the project, scheduled for public ownership by 2017," Nordberg said.

Through Meals on Wheels, Dove delivers both food and companionship to seniors and shut-ins, committing 72 hours of his time each year.

Dove volunteers nearly 100 hours per year at the Hubbard County Food Shelf.

"I never would’ve thought of it," Dove said of the Outstanding Senior nomination. "I don’t think of myself as a senior."

Former Hubbard County winners were on hand to congratulate this year’s candidates.

"For a healthy community to go forward, we need volunteers," Lenius said. "If we were to add all their hours and eliminate them, what a different community this would be and not nearly as rich."

Speaking on behalf of the Hubbard County Board, chairperson Vern Massie said, "Hubbard County does tremendous work, but it’s only with volunteers. We have a lot of commitment – a lot of commitment."

Connie Carmichael, executive director of Living at Home Park Rapids, said her 79 volunteers donated 2,447 hours in 2015.

"They’ve driven over 20,000 miles and made 456 home visits in one year," Carmichael reported. "We thank you for everything you do in the community to keep it thriving the way it is. It’s amazing how many wonderful, wonderful seniors we have in our community."