Sharon Anderson named Talent's first Citizen of the Year

TALENT — A woman consistently involved in efforts to improve the town was honored as the first recipient of the Talent Citizen of the Year award.

Sharon Anderson, who is instrumental in the running of the Friday evening summer market, the community's Great Green Garden, tree planting, recycling efforts and other projects, received the commendation in a ceremony following the City Council's meeting Wednesday.

"She's always willing to step up and do what needs to be done," said Cynthia Care, chairwoman of the city's Together for Talent Committee. "She always does it with good cheer."

Anderson, who moved to Talent in 2000, said she appreciates the town's size after growing up in the country in western Pennsylvania and a career in social and health services in the Seattle area.

"Talent is the size that you can kind of put your arms around and have some impact," said Anderson. "You don't feel like you can't do anything or make a difference."

A selection committee said Anderson stood out over the other nominees for contributions to Talent.

"We are really proud to have you in the city and proud to have you as the first citizen of the year," said Mayor Bill Cecil, who created the award to honor volunteers.

Anderson manages the Friday evening market, which she created with others four years ago. The market offers crafts, produce, food vendors and live music.

"I was interested mostly from the aspect of supporting local growers," said Anderson, a self-described country girl.

"It's just the love of growing and being around growing and living things."

When Talent Elementary teacher Kristi Rutkai approached the Talent Garden Club about creating a community garden, Anderson jumped at the chance.

"It was originally a parking lot when we took it over," Anderson said. "We now have 41 beds."

Anderson is the coordinator for members of the community who use the garden, which is a joint project with the school.

As a member of the Together for Talent Committee, Anderson assisted in the successful effort to plant 100 trees during Talent's Centennial Year, 2010. Trees were planted by businesses, homeowners and groups. She worked with the Bureau of Land Management to secure more than 200 seedlings that were planted along the Bear Creek Greenway.

"We tried to market and sell those projects as much as we could anywhere we could," said Anderson.

When she's not leading efforts, Anderson still contributes. This year she helped create a walking path along Wagner Creek between Highway 99 and Talent Avenue. She also served on the selection committee for a new city manager. And she's helping plan a holiday celebration with a tree-lighting ceremony at the Community Center Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m.

Currently treasurer for the garden club, she is a past president of the group which annually decorates the Community Center for Christmas and takes on other beneficial, non-gardening projects.

Anderson gained master recycler certification in 2010 and has pushed recycling at the annual Harvest Festival. She works with the city on recycling and waste-reduction efforts.

City Councilman Sherman Lamb, a member of the selection committee, said he is always running into Anderson whenever he explores improvement efforts. There were about a half-dozen nominees for the honor, he said.

"I'm happy and glad to do anything I can for Talent," Anderson said when she received the award.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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