Out of Left Field: Congrats to Citizen of the Year Nick Chernoff

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
May 30th, 2013

I’m writing this as a column because I can’t possibly pretend to be unbiased about the charming, generous fellow who was last night awarded Citizen of the Year by the Knights of Columbus (KoC).

Trowelex owner Nick Chernoff, 75, came to Castlegar when he was just 28, and has been here ever since, building community, volunteering and pitching in. The list of his contributions is literally so long, I don’t want to print it for fear of losing your attention – highlights include his support of Sunfest, the food bank, the Kootenay Gallery and Museum, and youth sports of all varieties.

Brain Bogle, chair of the KoC Citizen of the Year commmittee, said that, after putting out a public call for nominations, the committee received numerous applications – and Chernoff was nominated several times by different people.

“They all spoke to Nick’s community involvement and generosity over almost 50 years,” Bogle said. “And they all spoke to his response to the tragedy at Johnson’s Landing last year. It was a common thread through all the applications – that he was the first one out there with supplies for the first responders.”

For himself, Chernoff said he was completely surprised by the honour.

“I surely was (surprised),” he said. “When they called and said I was chosen, I said, ‘No, can’t you find anybody better?'”

That humble humour served him well, too, when standing up to give his speech.

“I was shivering – it was scary,” he said. “But when I got up there, I said. ‘You people aren’t as scary as I thought you were going to be!’

“It was all very nice. They did such a super job with all the ceremony – it was just amazing.”

Several dignitaries were present, including Gail Hunnisett representing MP Alex Atamanenko, mayor Lawrence Chernoff (no relation),  city councillor Kevin Chernoff (Nick’s son), and former MLA and current president of the Castlegar and District Heritage Society Chris D’Arcy, to name a few.

For myself, I’m delighted to report this award being presented to a man who has always been so generous with his time and kindness, and whose family was so welcoming and warm to a newby reporter from the big city who didn’t know a soul when she moved here.

If you want to know about Castlegar, ask Nick – he has a story about every rock, every tree, every bend in the road. It’s utterly charming.

Congratulations, Nick, from me personally, and from the Castlegar Source!



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