GAMBIER — The village of Gambier honored a few of its own Thursday during the annual Fourth of July celebration and parade. The celebration was held in the center of town for the first time after a few years of construction, according to Gambier mayor, Kachen Kimmell, who spoke to the crowd of parade participants and observers.

“Gambier is a venerable town, and we respect our history. So while we dedicate this new town center with our presence and celebration today, it’s appropriate that we also look back and honor some of those who helped shape the village we enjoy,” Kimmell said.

This year’s Citizen of the Year award went to Joyce Klein, a well known Gambier citizen who passed away in February of this year. Klein was known for founding the Friday Lunch Cafe and the Gambier Craft Sale, as well as being a dedicated volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, the Knox County Hunger Committee, and the Knox County Democratic Party, according to Kimmell in her speech at the ceremony. The village had tried to nominate Klein for the past three years, but she always declined the nomination.

“Nobody ever deserved the Citizen of the Year recognition more, but it’s only now that we can catch up with you, Joyce. Thank you for all you did to make this town what it is,” Kimmell said in her speech.

Former mayor of Gambier, Richard A. Baer, was honored as well, and Kimmell announced that the village council chambers at the community center will be named the Richard A. “Dick” Baer Gambier Village Council Chambers in his honor.

“It’s a fitting tribute to a man who spent so much of his life and energy on our behalf,” Kimmell said. Baer served as mayor of Gambier for 34 years, and Kimmell recognizes him for establishing police protection, water service, wastewater treatment, offices for the village, recycling and the Gambier branch library. The award was given to his wife, Frankie, who thanked the village for their support.

The village announced this year’s Poet Laureate, Kenyon College alumna Michaela Jenkins. Jenkins, originally from South Carolina, shared a poem titled “American Love Song” that delves into her complex feelings towards America. The Poet Laureate Award goes to a poet in the village that has influenced and enhanced the lives of citizens in the village.

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Lily Nickel: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @



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