January 21, 2002
Community benefits from Citizen of the Year's many volunteer hours
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALL - Residents look forward every year to Duvall's historic downtown Christmas lighting. But this season it almost didn't happen, says Chamber of Commerce member Margie Coy, who gives credit for the display to the man who was recently named the Duvall Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
"Jerry Marlette made the holiday lighting happen this year," said Coy. "He worked many, many free hours to get the lights going."
Marlette is humble about the praise, but admits he is gratified he was chosen for the award.
"I am pleased about the honor," he said. "But there are many others out there who work just as hard."
For Marlette, working on the holiday lights was just another opportunity to help the community he loves. Over the years he has put in countless volunteer hours on projects ranging from improving city parks to city or Chamber of Commerce events.
"He's the one we go to if we need anything," said Coy. "He always goes above and beyond the call of duty."
That sentiment is echoed by those at City Hall and the Duvall Public Works Department who were delighted Marlette received the honor.
"He is so deserving," said City Clerk Jodee Schwinn.
Marlette, 46, is Duvall Public Works supervisor and a lifelong Duvall-area resident who spent his formative years at Cherry Valley Elementary and Tolt High School.
He has worked for the city for almost five years, coming from a 15-year position at the Riverview School District. His first job for the school district was custodian at Cherry Valley Elementary. Many who attended the school when he worked there remember him fondly.
"Jerry was so nice," said former Cherry Valley student Christy Allen, now 28. "Every Friday, he would go up on the roof of the school gym and toss down all the soccer balls that ended up there during the week. All the kids would cheer. It was quite an event."
Marlette smiled as he remembered those days.
"There were sometimes as many as 100 balls on the roof," he said. "I just loved the kids. That was one of the reasons I went to work for the school district. I used to take my breaks around recess so I could do something with the students. Parents still come up to me and thank me for being part of their children's lives. That makes me feel good."
Marlette left the custodian job to work in the maintenance department of the school district. He was there for around 11 years before being hired by the city of Duvall. Marlette was recommended for the job by former Mayor Glen Kuntz, who later commended him for saving the city thousands of dollars when he used trailer frames for two footbridges installed at Cherry Valley Vista and McCormick Park.
"It was Glen's idea to use trailer frames because used bridges were too expensive," Marlette said. "But I did find the frames and it saved the city a lot of money."
Marlette began in maintenance and worked his way up to Duvall Public Works supervisor where he is in charge of four employees.
Marlette says he likes to be involved in everything.
"I'm a person who likes to please people," he said. "And I try to make the best of every situation ... even when the situation isn't very good, I try to make the best of it."
Marlette lights up when he talks about building McCormick Park from scratch.
"We take a lot of pride in the park," he said. "The crew took the land from blackberry bushes ... they helped me look good and I want to thank them for that. But I love to volunteer and I'm very proud of all I have done. And I want to thank my boss (Public Works Director Elizabeth Goode) for believing in me. She's the best boss I have ever had."
Marlette says he likes to work on cars at home, but his favorite thing to do is "work for the city, running large equipment. I like to be busy."
He said his department is in charge of the whole city.
"One day we might do the parks, the next day the streets or water department," he said. "There's a lot to do."
He says he is known as an "easygoing guy," at work but admits he has made a big effort to get there.
"Losing your temper doesn't solve anything," he says he has learned over the years. "If you get mad at a worker, then that person won't be a good employee."
Marlette is married and the father of three children ‹ Amy, 27, Jeremy, 22 and Joey, 20. The couple has four grandchildren.
He says his wife, Jenean, has accepted his dedication to the city.
"She knows my work comes first," he said. "I have always cared a lot about my job - 100 percent or more."
He said that when he learned he had been named Citizen of the Year, he was so excited he couldn't sleep.
"I was so happy I was keeping my wife awake," he said. "I asked her (jokingly) if she thought I would get the key to the city. And she told me 'shut up ‹ you already have the key to the city.'"
Marlette will be honored at the Citizen of the Year banquet on Feb. 11 in the Cedarcrest High School commons.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. For reservations for the banquet, call Margie Coy at (425) 788-3923. More information will be announced at a later date.