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“Good food and good friends. What more could you ask for?” asked Gary Kehne when he humbly stood before the Spencer County-Taylorsville Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday afternoon and accepted the award for Citizen of the Year.
“There’s nobody more deserving of this award,” said Chamber President Cara Lewis, who presented Kehne with a plaque after touching on some of the many volunteer organizations of which he has long been an outstanding member.
“I do these things because I love our community,” said Kehne during a short speech in which he praised the gifts his hometown has given him over the years.
“It’s worthy of giving something back.”
Kehne, a general contractor who specializes in residential and small commercial construction, has been living and working in Taylorsville for 23 years. He divides his time between making a living and working countless unpaid hours for organizations that have found a place in his heart.
He is an active member of All Saints Catholic Church as well as the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest all-male Catholic service organization. He also works with the Stewards of Appalachia, a donation-based Catholic service group that renovates and restores Eastern Kentucky homes that are in disrepair. According to All Saints Church’s website, as of November of last year, the Stewards have collected over $28,000 in service to the people of Appalachia.
“They don’t think of themselves as poor. I don’t call them poor,” said Kehne of the people he assists through Stewards of Appalachia. Similarly, Kehne also puts his talent and energy into his work with Habitat for Humanity.
In addition to these services, Kehne serves as flood wall commissioner, making sure the pumps are manned day and night. He was instrumental in the much needed re-certification of the flood wall last year.
Kehne is also a leading member of the Octoberfest Committee. Octoberfest is an annual two-day event that attracts hundreds of people every year. According to many, the festival would not be possible without Kehne’s inexhaustible enterprise. He said he dedicates himself to “making the festival bigger and better every year.”
“I do it all for this community, not recognition or plaques...I’ve got a lot of friends here and it’s an excellent place to call home.”
“The success of a community is hinged upon volunteers – they propel the community,” said Mayor Don Pay, who also presented a special proclamation during the Thursday meeting, recognizing his gratitude for Kehne’s longtime commitment to public servitude. “Gary is at the forefront as a leader of many volunteer organizations. He is incredibly deserving of this title.”
When Kehne is not hard at work – which, he said, is seldom – he devotes his time to being a father of four and a grandfather of six.
He also has a classic street rod that he likes to “play with in the summertime.”
As for future retirement plans, Kehne serenely said he has none.
“Most people work for retirement. I’ll continue to work forever.”
Kehne finally said that, though he was very grateful for being named Citizen of the Year, not one iota of what he has achieved as an individual in his 23 years of service to the city of Taylorsville would have been possible without the help of the community that surrounds him.
“I’m a part of a team. That’s why any of us succeed – because we’re a team.”