A healthy serving of community pride was infused into the recent Ukee Days closing ceremonies as Jeff Swann, Sandy Rantz, and Solidarity Snacks were celebrated for their Ucluetian dedication.
Coun. Randy Oliwa presented Rantz with Ucluelet’s Volunteer of the Year award and touted her efforts to earn it.
“It is a great honour, pleasure and privilege to announce this year’s volunteer of the year award,” Oliwa said.
“Chances are you’ve run into Ms. Rantz somewhere, she’s at all of these events. If something is happening in the community this young lady is in the thick of it.”
Rantz told the Westerly she was delighted to receive the award.
“It means the world to me. I’m really happy to be recognized by my community,” Rantz said. “I’m just so appreciative of the award and I love living in Ucluelet.”
She said her love of the community stems from the people she shares it with.
“I volunteer because I like to get out there and do everything. I like to be a part of everything and I like to have a purpose…I started volunteering just to get to know people in my community and it certainly met that goal,” she said.
“It’s a very supportive community and it makes it easier when you’re going through tough times because you’re really embraced by so many people and you’re so close to everybody in your community.”
Coun. Mayco Noel presented the Business of the Year award to Solidarity Snacks co-owners Kasia Kromka and Cody Naples.
“You’ve been a solid part of the business community,” Noel said.
Kromka told the Westerly she was both stoked and shocked to receive the award.
“I did not expect it at all,” she said. “It’s an honour that people are thinking about us…and that they’re aware of all the things that we do around town. It’s really special.”
Along with promoting good food, Solidarity Snacks is heavily involved in the Ucluelet Market Society as well as the Army, Navy, and Air Force Veterans Club.
Kromka said the community’s support is vital to Solidarity’s success.
“Especially in a community of this size, in a small town, if the community doesn’t support you in what you’re doing, you won’t exist; you won’t be able to function as a business,” she said.
“I’d like to thank everybody that voted for us and everybody in the community.”
Coun. Sally Mole presented Ucluelet’s Citizen of the Year award to Jeff Swann.
“It’s a huge privilege for me to announce the Citizen of the Year Jeff Swann who has been a big part of our community for a long time,” she said.
Swann told the Westerly he was “taken aback” by the award.
“This community is so full of wonderful citizens…It was a very nice honour to receive,” he said. “To have that honour is pretty special. I can’t say enough about it and I want to thank everybody for that.”
Swann is the Ucluelet RCMP’s detachment commander and said his award is a reflection of the community’s positive relationship with its local police.
“It’s a special feeling. It warms my heart that we’ve been able to create such long-lasting relationships between the police and the community,” he said.
“It’s so interwoven that when I’m working, half the time I forget that I’m in uniform because I just feel like such a big part of this community and I know that the other officer’s here in Ucluelet feel the same way. It’s such a warm, caring, giving community.”
Achieving such high popularity while keeping the community in-line would seem a tough task but Swann said respect goes a long way.
“The police are out there enforcing laws…but I think if you do it in a fair and just manner and you’re polite and respectful when you do your job people will understand,” he said.
He added Ucluelet is a joy to police.
“We’re blessed to work in this community,” he said. “I feel guilty most days taking a paycheque because of the support that we get in this community.”
Swann said the community’s strength was shown by the lack of antics over the busy weekend.
“We just had our busiest weekend of the year go off without a hitch,” he said. “This community needs to be proud.”