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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Morris named Citizen of the Year

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wayne Morris (left) was named Cherokee's Citizen of the Year. The award was presented by former recipient John Cook. Photo by Ken Ross
Wayne Morris, whose knowledge and work are vital to the success of many community events, was named Cherokee Citizen of the Year during the annual recognition banquet at the Cherokee WIT conference center on Saturday.

The mayor is out of town, so the award was presented by last year's recipient, John Cook. The following was taken from John Cook's introduction:

I am honored to have the opportunity to stand in for Mayor Henrich in presentation of the Cherokee 'Citizen of the Year' award, presented each year to recognize exemplary community service beyond the scope of one's 'day job.'

This year's recipient is a Northwest Iowa native, having grown up in the Laurens area, graduating from Laurens-Marathon High School in 1971. He came to Cherokee in 1996, employed initially as a welder, but now his day job is primarily spent on the computer.

It was his avocation - a love of music - that led to the development of the talents so important to his service in the Cherokee Community. For years he has been a dynamite 6-string guitarist and a two-time member of the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, once as part of the Senders and again with Phoenix. That experience led to the development of particular skills working with sound and lighting.

Since coming to Cherokee, our recipient has developed into a critical volunteer support staff for most musical and theatrical performances in and around our community. As his employer noted in his letter of nomination: "He volunteers for just about every community activity." He is a mainstay of Community Theater, implementing and operating lighting, sound, and now pyrotechnics for CCT. He now serves as the President of the Cherokee Community Theater board.

His love of theater extended to theater in our schools. A long time educator in theater wrote in her letter of nomination:

'He has spent countless hours volunteering his time and energy to help students learn the art of sound and lights at Washington High School. He is patient, kind and committed in teaching my students . . . '

His services have extended to assisting our Cherokee Symphony, many events of the Sanford Museum, summer street dances and, in recent years, he has been instrumental in the success of the Jazz & Blues Festival, working with sound and lighting at the concert as well as the many venues. One organizer of the Jazz & Blues event writes:

'I find it hard to imagine how we could accomplish the annual festival without him.'

In recent times he has also been willing to assist with design and development of new facilities for lighting and sound. With the Gillette Park Development, I have it on very good authority that the outdoor performance area in the west park would simply not have the facilities available without his guidance and assistance. He has also taken a leadership role with the design of lighting and sound systems for the Great Hall of our community center to assure they are best suited to the many important uses we have.

We live in a special place. Part of what makes it special is that we are blessed with more than our share of regular people who, through grit and work and dedication, accomplish extraordinary things. Wayne Morris is one of those special people, which is the reason we are proud to honor him this evening as Cherokee=s Citizen of the Year.

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