Joan Morris said the recipient of the Citizen of the Year award from the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce is an “amazing lady” who has spent years working to make Jamestown a better place to live.
Paulette Ritter received the award Thursday at the annual chamber banquet.
“You look at the people who won in the past and they all stand on a pedestal,” she said. “It is humbling and a total surprise to be included in that group. I’m very appreciative.”
Her nomination letters all touted her work making Jamestown a better place to live.
“Paulette Ritter is a strong advocate of the City’s B (Chamber City Beautification Committee) recycling work,” Morris said in her letter nominating Ritter for the award. “From coordinating the start of a city drop-off center for yard waste and recycling items many years ago to working on this year’s implementation of the residential recycling program.”
Ritter said her efforts with the recycling program probably had the greatest impact in the community.
“We worked on it for so many years,” she said.
Morris also gave Ritter credit for for writing grant applications for the Sensory Garden Project. The Sensory Garden is specially designed to provide experiences in sight, touch and smell and constructed to be accessible by people with all levels of mobility.
The project received nearly $50,000 in outside funding and will enter the final phase of construction when a water feature is added this summer.
Dave Hillerud wrote in his letter of recommendation that Ritter is well informed and well prepared for her duties on the Jamestown Planning Commission. Hillerud and Ritter have served on the Planning Commission since 2002.
“Because of her active involvement in the community over the years, through so many organizations, she has been a great source of knowledge,” Hillerud said.
Ritter has also been an active on the tourism committee in Jamestown.
“She understands the importance, and is a strong advocate, for hospitality,” wrote Searle Swedlund, executive director of Discover Jamestown. “Paulette is always ready and willing to jump in where she is needed.”
Jumping in and helping take on many shapes, Swedlund said.
“One minute Paulette is working with the Chamber Beautification Committee to make our community bright and alive,” he said. “The next she is in the dirt and exhaust of the speedway, cheering on the racers from Jamestown and surrounding communities.”
Barbara Lang, a previous recipient of the Chamber Citizen of the Year award, called Ritter a “consummate volunteer for the Jamestown community.”
Lang credits Ritter’s work with the City Beautification Committee, Zonta and the Jamestown Community Foundation as “examples of the incredible amount of volunteer time that Paulette has given in service to the community of Jamestown.”
Ritter credited her family and the people she works with for not letting her know about the award.
“It was quite a ‘wow’ night,” she said.
Morris said Ritter’s body of volunteer work has had an important impact on Jamestown.
“It is a well-deserved award,” she said. “She has given a lot to the city of Jamestown.”