Oakridge residents celebrate with City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman, this year's recipient of the League of Oregon Cities Herman Kehrli Award for lifetime achievement. From left, former mayor Sue Bond, Jenifer K. Hood, Coral Zimmerman, Gordon Zimmerman, City Councilors Rayetta Clark and Randy Dreiling and Mayor Don Hampton.

Zimmerman receives Kehrli Award

EUGENE--On Saturday, September 25, Oakridge City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman was honored by the League of Oregon Cities prestigious Herman Kehrli Award for lifetime achievement. The League’s announcement came at their annual conference’s penultimate awards dinner, which was held at the Eugene Hilton.
According to the League’s nomination form, “The Herman Kehrli Award is granted to a city employee who has provided lasting benefits to his/her community through exceptional contributions to city government. The nominee is judged on the following criteria: his contributions to the his city, regional government, the League of Oregon Cities, and other municipal and professional organizations; leadership in his own city, LOC, regionally, and at the state or national levels; Whether the nominee has been recognized by others for contributions to local government and community; The level of public esteem the nominee has achieved and the influence he has had in raising the prestige of city government service; His ability to demonstrate high ethical principles and conduct; The depth and breadth of support for the nominee from within and outside the nominee’s own city; The degree to which the nominee would be readily identified by peers and colleagues as a role model/example of exceptional public service; and lastly through a demonstration of professionalism in the nominee’s field and stability in his overall employment history.”
Zimmerman’s nomination included 20 letters supporting his nomination from people all over the state and from diverse backgrounds. There were letters from former Governor John Kitzhaber, Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart, Jacqueline Yoder, Regional Coordinator, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, as well as letters from private enterprise and his fellow public servants. Whoops and hollers of approval came from throughout the banquet hall, including Zimmerman’s own table, where he was surrounded by his wife and eight supporters from Oakridge.
“Being inside City Hall you get to know its workings in a way no one from the outside really understands,” observed Jenifer Kay Hood, former Enterprise Facilitator for the community of 3700. “From the outside it may look like Gordon isn’t doing enough because so much of what he does has not yet generated the kind of huge visible thing outsiders expect to see. But when you put everything he has done side by side you can see Gordon is building a community anyone would be proud to live in. Better streets, better water, better parks, more social and environmental amenities, and the list goes on and on. Yes, it isn’t a gigantic plant employing hundreds of people, but it is an Industrial Park with all the amenities modern corporations look for and a more balanced and vibrant community to attract them.”
The League cited Zimmerman’s membership in 19 boards and committees over the years, including his current role in 11 boards. It also noted his work to improve water and sewer services within the community, improved streets, economic development activities and improvements to the Oakridge Industrial Park. The application detailing Zimmerman’s various contributions to Oregon life consisted of 13 pages plus 33 supporting documents, including the aforementioned letters of support, certificates, awards, and photos of the work he has had a hand in.
In addition to winning the award, Zimmerman was named to join the League of Oregon Cities Board of Directors.
Like an architect sketching a mansion, Zimmerman knows one brick does not make a house. It is many things, often little things, which make the difference between a mansion and a lean to. But mansions take patience, perseverance and the ability to see beyond the petty differences that divide a community. This is Zimmerman’s unique gift. He knows how important it is to build things that will stand the test of time and change. As city administrator for Oakridge and in all his extra activities for the state this is what he is doing: putting brick upon brick to create a safe, beautiful and prosperous community.
A devoutly modest man, Zimmerman shrugged off the award, “My greatest reward is seeing what I do bear fruit.” From the reaction of people in the Playwrights Ballroom at the Eugene Hilton on Saturday night, it is clear others thought he deserved something more.
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