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The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday honored Volunteer of the Year recipients for 2016 and recognized the more than 500 citizens who donate their time to the county. The board approved a proclamation declaring April 23-29 to be Volunteer Week in Clatsop County and presented certificates of appreciation to this year’s recipients.

In 2016, 518 volunteers provided a total of 17,940 hours of service to the county, representing a value of $422,655.


Individual Volunteer of the Year is Jerry Gaidos, who served for many years as chaplain for the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office.


A former police officer in Portland, Gaidos built relationships with local law enforcement staff through ride-alongs, offering advice and counseling and being available at police stations. He often accompanied personnel delivering death notifications and provided comfort to grieving loved ones. Following the death of Seaside Police Sgt. Jason Gooding in 2016, Gaidos was a source of support for the entire county law enforcement family, and officiated at Gooding’s memorial service.

Gaidos was nominated for the award by Sgt. Matt Armstrong and Lt. Matt Phillips of the Sheriff’s Office.


Outstanding Advisory Board Volunteer is Allison Tigard, a member of the Arts Council of Clatsop County. Appointed to the council in 2016, Tigard brought advanced computer skills and strong interpersonal skills along with knowledge of and experience in the arts to the citizen panel. She was instrumental in the helping the council complete an ambitious county-wide survey of the arts’ local economic impact.

Tigard was nominated by Emergency Services Coordinator Bijan Fayyaz.


Outstanding Volunteer Group is the Underwater Recovery Team. The volunteer group performs recovery missions for accident victims as well as assists in criminal investigations involving rivers, lakes and the ocean. The group was particularly active in 2016, including a challenging recovery involving a small aircraft that crashed into the Columbia River. Last year the team provided a total of 300 hours of volunteer service valued at more than $7,000,

The team was nominated by Sgt. Matt Armstrong.


Outstanding Division/Program Volunteer:

Ashley Leichleiter – Leichleiter volunteers every day at the Clatsop County Animal Shelter. She walks the dogs, gives them obedience training, and introduces them to potential adopters. She also photographs dogs for the Clatsop Animal Assistance and Petfinder adoption guides. Her efforts result in making the animals calmer, better behaved and more likely to find a new home.

Leichleitner was nominated by Animal Control Supervisor Stephen Hildreth.

Don Hillgaertner – Hillgaertner is a key figure in the local amateur radio community and valuable resource for the county Emergency Management Division. As leader of the Radio Emergency Auxiliary Communications group, he manages and coordinates training and participation of amateur radio volunteers, establishes working relationships with federal, state, local and private entities and develops operational plans. He assisted in the development and fine-tuning of the county Emergency Operations Center at Camp Rilea.

Hillgaertner was nominated by Emergency Services Coordinator Tom Manning.

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