At the February 7, 2017, City Council meeting, Mayor Paul Becker honored city resident Linda Kestner as the 2016 Person of the Year. Linda donates her time to numerous city and regional organizations including, Jackson County Master Recyclers, Jacksonville’s Citizen Emergency Response Team, Jacksonville Boosters Club, Friends of Jacksonville’s Historic Cemetery, Historic Jacksonville Inc., Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Firewise and others. Before a packed house, the mayor introduced Linda and then proclaimed:

Tonight we honor someone who, since arriving in Jacksonville, has completely and selflessly dedicated herself to the betterment of our little town. Joining the Boosters Club, she was immediately active in all its projects, wielding paint brushes and selling Home Tour tickets with equal and enormous enthusiasm. Booster functions run more smoothly and seamlessly with Linda on hand to help.

On national holidays, the flying of flags downtown is under her direction as chair of a special Boosters committee. Beekman House events owe thanks to her as a docent who also cleaned up the enormous picket fence last summer.

At Jacksonville’s Historic Cemetery, she lends her labors to special projects, on clean up days and the “stage crew” for Meet the Pioneers.

Her commitment to our city is exemplified by her participation in CERT and tireless assistance with our two annual parades, Victorian Christmas and Chinese New Year. With the last, she has thoroughly reorganized and facilitated displaying the Chinese lanterns for the celebration.

Most recently, this volunteer of volunteers, renowned for her passion for recycling, has become the principal in our parks recycling program. And we can thank her for new, green recycle containers appearing in our downtown.

And yet this volunteer among volunteers shuns the spotlight, reliably disappearing before any thanks can be offered. A few years ago, the Boosters literally had to knock on her door to bestow her “Booster of the Year” award.

She personifies the giving individual as set forth in the Bible wherein Jesus is quoted as saying “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Therefore we, with thanks and admiration, honor our Person of the year… Linda Kestner.

Following the presentation of this most-deserved recognition, Carolyn Kingsnorth of Historic Jacksonville, Inc. and Gayle Lewis of CERT, offered the following commentary.

For Historic Jacksonville, Inc., Linda has adopted the Beekman House and there is no way that we could host its programs and events there without her! She is the greeter for every one of our Victorian-themed, Victorian Christmas, and Living History tours. She does set up and take down, hauling tables, chairs and canopies. She sweeps the walkways and patio; she puts up and takes down the “open” signs; she helps open, close, and secure the house.

If we need volunteers to clean house, decorate, un-decorate, etc., she’s the first one in line. She just helped with taking down the Victorian Christmas decorations and packing away left over items from our Christmas Bazaar. She sorts the trash to segregate the recyclables and then hauls it all away. She even washes the shoe covers after tour days!

Although the City takes care of the Beekman House yard, Linda is the gardener—weeding, pruning, planting, and mulching the flower beds. If she sees maintenance or repair work is required, she “nags” the City on our behalf. And when she knew we needed better storage facilities, she underwrote the cost of finishing the interior of the shed attached to the Carriage House so that we would have clean, secure, insulated storage for our equipment and props.

Linda tackles all of these activities with dedication and cheer. And these are just the things that I know about!

Gayle Lewis, of the Jacksonville CERT team, says town benefits from Linda’s dedication and enthusiasm for Community Service. Linda can be counted upon to turn out for nearly every training and service evolution. She drives the rig and takes any tough or dirty assignment handed to her. Always working in pairs and teams, CERT counts on Linda to be there when there is a parade, a Firewise clean-up, a Fire Department call out, a training session, a celebration or active emergency response situation.

For a town that runs on volunteer energy, Linda Kestner sets an example for all of us and is most deserving of our thanks and gratitude. Congratulations, Linda!