JCs, Auxiliary Banquet celebrate four local leaders

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
The lucky ticket

Tanner Buhr, the son of one of the award winners, helps Master of Ceremonies Jed Fitch read off the numbers of the lucky 50-50 ticket at the 64th annual Dillon Jaycee Distinguished Service Award/Outstanding Young Man banquet and the Jaycee Auxiliary Outstanding Women Awards Banquet. Jason Mancoronal held the winning ticket and donated his $341 share back to the Dillon Jaycees. J.P. Plutt photo

The lucky ticket


The lucky ticket


The lucky ticket


The lucky ticket


The Dillon Jaycee 64th annual DSA/OYM Banquet and Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary 49th annual Woman of the Year Banquet merged two years ago due to the restrictions of the COVID pandemic. The combination of the two events worked so well that the two organizations knew going forward that it was a match made of a strong union and made sense to continue as a single, unified celebration.

The honorees Friday evening at the Lewis and Clark Room on the campus of Montana Western were Dillon Jaycee Outstanding Young Man Nathan Hunt, Dillon Jaycee Distinguished Service Award winner Fred Chouinard, Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary Outstanding Young Woman Kelly Graham, and Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary Outstanding Woman Lindsay Buhr.

The Jaycee Auxiliary was originally and still is a women’s organization, in the early years was 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 Will Hampton put the banquet together.

Hampton invited Dillon Jaycee Rodeo announcer Barney Sheridan as the guest speaker. Sheridan spoke of leadership and how impressed he has been working with a different JC Rodeo Chairman each year, and each year being impressed by the leadership ability of the young person.

Outstanding Young Man Hampton told the gathering Nathan Hunt, a Billings native, earned a mining engineering degree from Montana Tech and has with his father, built a thriving mining and excavation company. Hunt ended his Jaycee career as the rodeo chairman, but through his time with the club since 2013, he has organized the Easter Egg Hunt, worked with the Little Skiers program, Little Shooters, chaired Fireworks for eight years.

Outside the Jaycees, Hunt has served over five years as a Montana Mining Association board member, and has been involved in the Dillon Amateur Hockey League. In 2021 he earned his pilot’s license.

In accepting his award, Hunt said, “This is very humbling. I am very proud to be part of this community. Thank you.”

Distinguished Service Award Jim Valach presented the Distinguished Service Award to Fred Chouinard. In his remarks introducing Chouinard, Valach encouraged all in attendance to seek out a group or club and spend time engaged in community service. Valach described Chouinard, a Butte Central and UMW graduate, as a career educator. He taught and coached in Willow Creek, earned his master’s from MSU and accepted a position as principal at Absarokee Elementary. He earned an Educator of the Year award in 1995, led educator groups and became superintendent at Absarokee.

To move closer to the hometown of he and his wife Brenda, Chouinard accepted the BCHS superintendent position 19 years ago. While in Dillon he has been an active community member, serving terms with the Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Montana YMCA board of director, president of the DUI Task Force, president since 2018 of Beaverhead Pheasants Forever, president of Dillon’s Lions Club, and he is currently chairman of the Fox Run Special Improvement District.

“First of all, I am blown away,” said a stunned Chouinard. “One of the best moves we’ve ever made was to this community.”

Outstanding Young Woman Teryn Decker, an officer in both the Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary and Dillon Jaycees, introduced Kelly Graham as this year’s Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary’s Outstanding Young Woman. Decker told the story of a United States Navy veteran who moved to Dillon with her husband and children and immediately become involved in the Dillon community.

“Ever since this woman moved to Dillon, she has been an active and positive member in the Dillon Community. She is always willing to give a helping hand, whether it is planning a Jaycee get together or organizing a cleaning party, no matter what you can always count on her.”

She and her husband Nick took on the Dillon Football League when the Jaycees accepted the program in 2019. She has led the Little Skiers, and has been the Jaycee treasurer, secretary and president.

“Thank you,” said Graham upon receiving her award.

Outstanding Woman Candy Hoerning presented Lindsay Buhr as this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Woman award.

“This award is going to a woman who embodies civic engagement and leadership, who is valued as a professional, whose volunteer ism is honorable and has been a positive and measurable impact on this community.”

Hoerning spoke of Buhr as a woman involved with her church, preschool, and serving on the City of Dillon ARPA board and Police Department Board as well as the Barrett Hospital Foundation Board.

“Not to mention she does one of the hardest things in our community of being a foster parent for the past 20 years to those children in need of a safe place,” said Hoerning, a former justice of the peace.

“There are far more deserving people, I’m sure, but thank you,” said Buhr.