Jaycees honor two men, two women at banquet

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

(From left) Will Hampton, Teryn Decker, Jim Valach, Candy Hoerning.

The Dillon Jaycee 63rd annual DSA/OYM Banquet and Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary 48th annual Woman of the Year Banquet merged a year ago due to the restrictions of the COVID pandemic. The combination of the two events worked so well in the limited capacity allowed a year ago, that the two organizations knew going forward that it was a match made of a strong union, the union so energized on a yearly basis as the two groups work in concert to make Dillon a better place.

The celebrated honorees Friday evening at the Lewis and Clark Room on the campus of Montana Western were Dillon Jaycee Outstanding Young Man Will Hampton, Dillon Jaycee Distinguished Service Award winner Jim Valach, Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary Outstanding Young Woman Teryn Decker, and Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary Outstanding Woman Candy Hoerning.

In past years as separate events, the formats have been radically different in reaching the point where plaques were presented and speeches were given. In the spirit of making the darn thing work, the Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary changed their format to mirror that of the Jaycees. The Jaycee Auxiliary was originally and still is a women’s organization, in the early years comprised mainly of the wives of Jaycees. The Jaycees were a young men’s group, but for over 30 years has welcomed both men and women onto their membership roles.

The format both groups followed put the previous year’s award winner at the dais to introduce this year’s honoree. The person’s qualifications and accolades are read with the name withheld until the last sentence of the introduction.

The previous year’s Outstanding Young Man, if he remains a Dillon Jaycee, is also tasked with organizing the annual banquet the following year. Last year’s winner Brandon Ferguson aged out, thus J.M. Peck, the Outstanding Young Man two years ago, put the thing together.

Peck invited John Youngberg of Belgrade as the guest speaker. Youngberg spent his career with Montana Farm Bureau, but credited the lessons he learned as a young man with the Belgrade Jaycees as key to the success he enjoyed in life.

Outstanding Young Man

Brandon Ferguson told the gathering Friday night that this year’s OYM, Will Hampton, was born and raised in Dillon where he attended BCHS and participated in sports and FFA. Ferguson described Hampton as a selfless and hard worker by nature who was a natural Dillon Jaycee. Hampton became a key member of the group chairing many projects including Little Shooters, a project in which he brought the state tournament to Dillon and did such a good job they asked him to do it again. This past Labor Day Weekend Hampton was the chairman of the rodeo.

Hampton is a carpenter and photographer and a devoted family man. He takes time to spend with his sons, and as a military spouse he is relied upon in that capacity more than most.

In accepting his award, Hampton deflected attention from himself on a night when all the attention was upon him.

“I don’t have a lot to say. I just live my life and try to leave the world in a better place than I found it.”

Distinguished Service Award

A year ago, Gile Mitchell was sitting at home watching the banquet on video when he found out he was the Distinguished Service Award Winner. This year, in person, Mitchell presented the award to Jim Valach.

Mitchell described Valach as a man of education who taught both at Dillon Middle School and at the University of Montana Western. Valach is a husband, father and grandfather.

The main project focused upon in regards to the award was Valach’s leadership with the Jaycee Park Renovation and as president of the Friends of Jaycee Park Group. Prior to involvement with the park, Valach engaged in a long list of community projects and causes.

“I want to thank the Jaycees,” said an emotional Valach. “You exemplify community support, you have my entire life. There is no better help than to help someone else. We live in a wonderful town, but sometime’s people need a little nudgin’.”

“I want to dedicate this to my son John,” said Valach fighting back tears of his oldest who passed away just a few years ago.

Outstanding Young Woman

Carlee Meine Schumacher, the Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary President and last years Outstanding Young Woman introduced Teryn Decker as this year’s Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary’s Outstanding Young Woman. Kemph described Decker as a professional at her job and a caring person with her family. Kemph says that Decker’s three step-daughters are her “daughters.”

“She has helped these young women grown and learn and cares for them very deeply,” said Kemph.

In the capacity of a caring mother, Decker has been on the BCHS Senior Party Committee for the last two years and has been involved with the Jaycees and Auxiliary for the past four years, serving as vice-president of the Auxiliary for the past three years. This past year she served as rodeo program chairperson.

“I’m shaking, I’m terrified to be standing up here right now,” said Decker upon receiving her award. ‘I do love serving and I do love being a Dillon Jaycee.”

Outstanding Woman

Mary Kemph, last year’s Outstanding Woman, introduced Candy Hoerning as this year’s recipient of the award. Kemph described Hoerning as “loving, forgiving, kind, devoted, passionate, honest and dedicated.” Kemph added committed to a life of public service as she described Hoerning’s 30 years working for the people first as a clerk in the county attorney’s office and since 2001, for 21 years, as Justice of the Peace.

“Candy exemplifies every quality that an Outstanding Woman should,” concluded Kemph. “That is why it is my pleasure to award Judge Candy Hoerning as 2021 Outstanding Woman of the Year.”

“ I am truly surprised,” said Hoerning in acceptance of the award. “I am truly, truly, humbled.”