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Sandy Journal

Sandy announces its Community Champion and Volunteer of the Year

Jul 01, 2022 09:55AM ● By Peri Kinder

By Peri Kinder | [email protected]

For Sandy residents Katie Johnson and Aaron Edwin Dekeyzer, community service is a responsibility. Their projects to make Sandy City more informed, educated and involved earned them recognition during the annual One Sandy Awards.

Sandy native Johnson was presented with the Community Champion award for her efforts to help residents understand the importance of involvement with local government. Johnson created the Sandy Clock Tower resident page on Facebook to provide information and promote civic engagement on topics affecting the city.

“It’s a group where people could discuss not federal, not national politics but local politics to learn more about it,” Johnson said. “I created the Clock Tower page as a place to do that. It’s a place we can have open discussions and people can ask questions they might not be able to ask elsewhere.”

Johnson also started spotlighting local businesses each week to get residents more involved with small businesses and entrepreneurs within the city. With a degree in public administration, Johnson is interested in transparency, resident outreach, public safety and responsible growth.

The Facebook page has hundreds of followers who come to the site to learn about the city. Johnson said the page has morphed over time, adapting to residents’ needs as they interact with each other.

“It’s really a kind of a learn at your own pace, so if they want to learn about politics, they can, but there’s also stuff about local events and crime. It’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure page,” Johnson said. “I was really flattered [to receive the award]. I didn’t start this page looking for accolades but it’s always nice to have people recognize that you’ve put some work in.”

For Dekeyzer, being honored as the Sandy Volunteer of the Year was a pleasant surprise. He’s lived in Sandy since he was in elementary school and feels a need to protect the city’s natural beauty and resources.

“It’s a great community,” he said. “I love where I live. We live by the deer and there’s wild turkey and quail, so the wildlife is great. We’re close to the mountain and we love camping and hiking and skiing. There are just so many places you can get to in a day’s drive. It’s a pretty great place to live.”

Dekeyzer’s 18-month effort to create a curbside glass recycling program was something he considered a huge win. He was also a proponent for HB 411, the Community Renewable Energy Act, that provided cities with tools to establish a community goal to use more renewable energy resources.

He served on the Sandy City Sustainability Focus Group, ran for city council and county council, and is the co-director of Save Not Pave, a group of residents hoping to protect the natural environment. Whether he’s serving on boards, committees or at his children’s schools, Dekeyzer believes every person has the responsibility to care for their community.

“There are just so many things we need to do better,” he said.