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Chinook Chamber celebrates Public Service Recognition Week 2018


May 16, 2018

Chinook Area Chamber officers, Chamber board members and local civil servants dish up ice cream during a celebration event for national Public Service Recognition Week. About 200 public servants live in the Chinook area and work at all levels of government. This was the first time the Chamber hosted the event and organizers are hoping it will continue as an annual event.

The Chinook Area Chamber of Commerce hosted an ice cream social last week to celebrate Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW). The annual week to salute employees in the public sector began in 1985 to "honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees." The kickoff to Public Service Recognition Week this year included a Presidential Proclamation and bipartisan resolutions from both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives recognizing the nation's civil servants "for their hard work and willingness to serve their fellow citizens."

Nationally the event is organized each year by the Public Employees Roundtable. The Roundtable is a coalition of good government associations working to promote public service recognition and careers. The group encourages government leaders and public servants to participate in a wide range of activities during the week that recognizes the role of public service to the nation.

Local Chamber President Sarah Pratt said that as far as she can tell this is the first ever formal celebration to honor public service employees in the Chinook area. Many large cities have major celebrations with special ceremonies to laud the work of civil servants. Nationally the week always begins the first Sunday in May.

Asked how the idea for the local celebration came about, Pratt said, "My husband, Danny, who works for the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Chinook, saw a notice about Public Service Recognition Week through his work. He showed me the information and I took it to the Chamber board. Hoping for a break in the weather we decided to host an ice cream social on the lawn of the Blaine County courthouse." Turns out the morning was rainy but by 5pm, when the ice cream social began, the weather was sunny with mild temperatures.

For several days Pratt worked to gather lists of people employed by various levels of governments who lived in the Chinook area. She said, "I found about 200 names of employees who work for some public entity. That included teachers as well as all levels of government." To personalize the celebration she listed the names of employees on the Chamber's Facebook page, listing a different level of government on each post. You can read the names of civil servants at the Chamber's Facebook page.

Chamber of Commerce board members and officers, as well as several local civil servants, helped serve the ice cream. Pratt said The Creamery and Finley's Food Farm both helped underwrite the event. The Chamber planned for as many as 400 attendees. Pratt explained, "We figured if every local public employee came and brought a friend or significant other we would need to accommodate around 400 guests."

The turnout was not as large as expected. After the event Pratt said, "I heard a lot of positive comments from the people who attended. They appreciated that their contributions to the community were being recognized." She added, "This was our first attempt. It usually takes a while for a new event to take hold. Hopefully this will become an annual event the Chamber will host."

The "Journal" joins the Chinook Area Chamber in saluting our local public employees and their role in serving the community. Thank you all.


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