On Tuesday, June 23, Highland City Council decided to cancel this year’s volunteer recognition dinner due to the coronavirus pandemic and move the annual event to April beginning in 2021.

The event, held each October to express the city’s appreciation for the service of its many volunteers, was the latest to be canceled following state and county restrictions on public gatherings out of concern for spreading the coronavirus.

The decision follows a discussion held during the previous council meeting when city staff pointed out that planning the event would be challenging and uncertain due to the uncertainty of coronavirus mitigations, difficulty in recruiting donations and sponsorships following the economic shutdown and anticipation that many volunteers will choose not to attend during the pandemic.

City staff also pointed out that holding the event could pose an unnecessary risk to the volunteers, many of who are older adults in the age groups considered higher risk for COVID-19.

Given the options to hold a virtual recognition, a drive-thru recognition, an outdoor barbecue event or postpone the event to April 2021, the city council chose postponement.

The event is being moved to April to coincide with National Volunteer Recognition Month.

The city will send letters and certificates of appreciation to each volunteer recognizing their service for 2020 as well as the customary “years of service” pins for those volunteers reaching milestone years of volunteer service to the city.

At the request of Mayor Pro Tem Penny Lilburn, each council member will sign the letter of appreciation.

“Part of this event is that I enjoy giving a personal touch to expressing our appreciation for their volunteer service to our city,” Lilburn said.

The volunteers serve the city in a variety of capacities including assisting the police department as Citizens on Patrol or Police Explorers, serving the fire department as reserve firefighters, serving at the library, assisting with the city’s blood drives and serving during the city’s many special events. The city also benefits from the service of volunteers on the Planning Commission, the Historic and Cultural Preservation Board and the Trails Committee.

Last year 101 residents were thanked for their volunteer service to the city.

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