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Knights of Columbus celebrate 50th Citizen of Year winner

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
April 24th, 2014

by Randi Jensen, The Nelson Daily

For 50 years the Knights of Columbus have sponsored everything good about being a strong citizen and volunteer through Citizen of the Year celebrations.

This traditional event will honour its latest recipient Saturday at the St. Joseph School when Peter Defeo is paraded into the gymnasium by the Knights of Columbus guard.

Defeo is an auxiliary member of Nelson Fire Department as well as a Paramedic for BC Ambulance Service.

“Volunteers grow a strong community and it is because of them that Nelson is as strong and vibrant as it is,” said Bob Tremblay, the Faithful Navigator of the L. H. Choquette, the fourth degree sector of the Knights of Columbus in Nelson.

The Knights of Columbus is a men’s group affiliated with the Catholic Church. L. H. Choquette was a Mayor of Nelson in the 1920’s, who himself was exemplary in public service.

Defeo, who has worked for the past 35 years as Shift Safety Coordinator at Zellstoff Celgar pulp mill in Castlegar, is the latest in a long line of worthy recipients of the award.

In 2013, Lois Arnesen received the honour. Arnesen will be on hand to present Defeo with his award.

“My public service and career at the pulp mill complement each other . . . they both feed me and keep me up to date,” said Defeo, married to wife Mary. The couple has two children, Frankie and Conner.

And when he’s not working, the L.V. Rogers High School grad is helping each Wednesday night a 2.5-hour practice at the Fire Department where they work behind the scenes on Wildlife Interface remediation, equipment practices and policy updates.

“In larger cities like Vancouver the crews are specialized and trained to specific disasters but in small communities like Nelson we must be well-versed in a lot of disciplines,” said Defeo, who also plays tuba in the Nelson City Band along with his wife.

A panel of three to four independent judges chooses the Citizen of the Year — this year headed by retired Nelson Fire Chief, Harry Somerville.

After the nomination deadline at the end of February the panel reviews the submissions. The nominations come in from all different sectors of the community and include those anywhere from working with youth to assisting seniors and everything in between.

Other past winners included Bruce Halstead, Alan Ramsden, Al Craft, Arnesen’s Welcome Wagon colleague Frances Welwood, inaugural winner Helen Morris and 2011 winner Bill McDonnell.

Public is welcome and tickets are available in advance at Baker Street Menswear. The evening begins at 6 p.m.

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