A dedicated fireman, a role model for youth in sport, and a unique mental health initiative have been acknowledged in Mid Murray Council’s 2017 Australia Day honours.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Hailing from Keyneton in the north of Mid Murray, James Graetz was named Citizen of the Year for his commitment to the community for the past 50 years.
Mayor Dave Burgess said James had underpinned and improved the Keyneton community for half a century.
“He has made significant contributions to the Country Fire Service (CFS), particularly during the 2014 Eden Valley fire,” he said.
“His commitment stood out during the fire, not only at the height of the emergency, but for many weeks after managing crews to handle the many flare-up and extensive debriefing with local and state authorities.”
For 30 of his 50 years with the Keyneton CFS, James led as captain.
Mr Burgess said James demonstrated unrelenting commitment to the job across numerous organisations from his children’s school to the district’s agricultural bureau.
James became the sole parent to his two children Kym and Sally after his beloved wife Carol passed away 12 years ago.
From there, he continued to run his household and their farm, and upheld his commitment to community duties with humility.
YOUNG CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
A university student, waitress and volunteer with the Mannum Roos Netball Club, 19-year-old Sophie Kroehn was named last year’s Young Citizen of the Year.
Sophie was recognised for her leadership within the netball club as vice-president last year and for completing the Netball SA Young Leaders Program.
Just in 2016, she coached a junior team, received her C grade umpires badge and played in the A grade side.
She also contributed to fundraising events and co-hosted the presentation night.
“I just want to help people,” she told The Standard.
“I like seeing people achieve their best and would like to encourage them to get their best out. “Netball’s a big love, so I like doing stuff around the club.”
Still, she said the award had come as a big shock – especially as the letter from the council, sent to let her know, had been misplaced.
She only found out when the media got in touch this week.
Sophie is also a member of the Nildottie Tennis Club and Mannum Leisure Centre mixed netball competition.
She said she planned to attend the breakfast at Mannum, then spend Australia Day by the river.
Mr Burgess said Sophie was a role model for young sportspeople and was already having a huge impact in her community.
COMMUNITY EVENT OF THE YEAR
In May last year, Swan Reach Area School shone a light on the power of positive mental health in the local children when it launched its WeMatter initiative.
A community-wide colour run attracted more than 250 students, staff, family, local services and residents, making the event a success and landing it with the Community Event of the Year award.
The presence of local service providers allowed residents to connect with the broader community and support services.
The school devised WeMatter to focus on the wellbeing and mental health of students and their families.