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The City Journals

Cottonwood Heights volunteers honored for thousands of hours of service

Feb 26, 2019 11:31AM ● By Josh Wood

Mayor Mike Peterson addresses attendees of the city’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. (Dan Metcalf, Jr/Cottonwood Heights)

By Joshua Wood | [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights held a special event earlier this year to honor one of its most vital resources — its volunteers. Each year, hundreds of volunteers provide thousands of hours of service to the community, and the city recognized members of 11 volunteer committees who have dedicated their time to serving the community.

“One thing I’ve learned in public service over the years is that one of the most valuable assets we have as a city is our volunteers,” Mayor Mike Peterson said. “It’s amazing the passion that they have.”

Volunteer committees are the driving force behind many of the city’s community initiatives. From the arts to city planning, community members share their expertise to make them happen. The arts council alone led the coordination of the annual summer musical along with other performances, the arts show, the photography show and exhibits by local artists in City Hall.

The historic committee spent countless hours researching the history of Cottonwood Heights and the area it occupies. Those efforts resulted in the city’s first published history book, which is now available for purchase.

The newest volunteer committee is the parks, trails, and open spaces committee. The group has started looking at a range of issues, from how to complete the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to ways of preserving and enhancing open spaces like the Crestwood Park area.

“There is a whole myriad of things that sometimes citizens through their energy can move along quicker than even we as elected officials can,” Peterson said. “We’re here to applaud their efforts and thank them for all that they’ve done and to encourage them to volunteer and serve.”

Some community initiatives have originated from the efforts of volunteers. The parks, trails, and open spaces committee resulted from community input that placed issues associated with open spaces near the top of the list each time community input was sought by the city.

Sustainability efforts from residents have also prompted action by the city. “We passed a resolution to become more sustainable as a city,” Peterson said. “A lot of that is because of citizens who have encouraged things like no idling in front of elementary schools. That came from citizen-initiated requests. Our sustainability resolution comes from that.”

The city’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner was an opportunity for volunteers with diverse interests and backgrounds to come together and meet with others who give their time to the community. The event has become a city tradition. “The first dinner was in 2011,” said Ann Eatchel, Cottonwood Heights culture manager. “Around 65 volunteers were invited this year.”

The city paid tribute to each volunteer committee and recognized each of its members. “We’ve invited everyone from these committees,” Peterson said. “We’re not selecting any one individual. We’re recognizing all the people on those committees. Everyone who’s been appointed to one of those committees. You have a real cross section of talents.”

City officials welcome more people to volunteer and build upon the efforts of those who were honored at the dinner. “We have so many areas of interest in our city, and we can’t do it all as city officials,” Peterson said. “So the citizens guide it and we stand back and let their expertise carry it forward.”