World of involvement: Silverton 2017 First Citizen Award goes to Andy Bellando

January 2018 Posted in Community

Andy Bellando-First Citizen 2017By Brenna Wiegand

Andy Bellando will be recognized as Silverton’s 2017 First Citizen at Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce’s 47th Annual First Citizen Banquet Feb. 3.

The Chamber of Commerce hosts the banquet as a time to recognize citizens and businesses working to make Silverton a better place. Bellando has been singled out for his contributions to Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce, Silverton Rotary Club and Silverton Area Community Aid (SACA).

“It’s a great honor; I’m very surprised,” Bellando said.

Bellando is Superintendent of Silver Falls School District. He and Rhonda have three grown children; Amanda, Jeron and Tyler, and a granddaughter, Elizabeth, three-years-old.

“Being superintendent is a natural opportunity to be involved in the community,” Bellando said. “It’s of mutual benefit of the schools and to the community.”

Silverton Mayor Kyle Palmer, who has volunteered with Bellando in several capacities and is heading this year’s banquet, said examples may be found in his work with the Rotary Club.

“Just being an active Rotary member means you’re helping with Homer (Davenport Community Festival), the Strawberry Festival, sponsoring exchange students and the club’s global causes which for several years has included eradicating polio across the world,” Palmer said. “In addition, each member takes on a specific project of their own.”

In Bellando’s case, it was the Clothes for Kids program, which he brought from the school district to Rotary who granted the project an annual budget of $1,000.

“He and Rhonda personally do all the shopping for those kids and then distribute the clothes to the schools,” Palmer said, “…and believe me, they find good deals and make the best of that $1,000.”

Bellando assumed an additional pet project this year, the First Reader program, another joint venture between Rotary and the school district that supplies First Reader books to all babies born at Legacy Silverton Medical Center

“I think he’s incredible,” Palmer said. “Like a lot of us, his profession segues into the community work he does.”

Bellando has been a Chamber member since 2010, helping provide oversight for its role in supporting local businesses and conducting several events throughout the year. Among other contributions, he headed the First Citizen Banquet for 10 years, was chairman of Silverton’s 150-year celebration, drove the Silver Trolley, and volunteered in several capacities at the Homer Davenport Community Festival.

“If you want to know how far I’ll go to support this community; I’ll even sit in the dunk tank every once in a while,” Bellando laughed.

“It takes a lot to go get in a tank,” Palmer said. “For somebody that’s serving in a volunteer capacity in the community, he’s the kind of person I would want on a board. He is very detail-oriented and is not a person that gets upset about anything. I find him extremely easy to work with.”

Palmer said Bellando’s leadership of SACA’s board the past six years has been key to its development.

“The organization itself has adapted very well over time to meet an important need in our community,” Bellando said. “We have a very qualified board that does an incredible job of leading us in the
right direction.

“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done; our achievements and the increasing support we are receiving from the community,” he added. “We have great things happening.”

Bellando signed on with Silverton High School in 1988 as an Ag and science teacher. In 1995 he became assistant principal for Mark Twain Middle School and Robert Frost Elementary, then was principal of the middle school from 1997 to 2008. In 2008 he was named district director of human resources and in 2010 took over for Superintendent Craig Roessler upon his retirement.

Along the way he made a friend in Troy Stoops, now Superintendent of Mount Angel School District.

“We’ve stayed in close contact,” Stoops said. “I was one of his student teachers and then he hired me as a teacher and I ended up following him into administration. He was my primary mentor and I learned from his leadership – how to be organized; how to plan.

“As superintendents there aren’t a whole lot of people we can bounce things off,” Stoops said. “He’s always on speed dial.”

Stoops called Bellando a perfect example of someone who has come up through the system and taken advantage of leadership opportunities like the FFA in high school that provides foundational skills for being effective in leadership roles.

“Andy was very influential in my career,” Stoops said. “He has a lot to offer; Andy really thinks things through, he’s very level-headed and treats everybody with respect and has modeled the importance of taking on a leadership role.”

Bellando’s parents also modeled community service.

“Since I was a high school student it’s been part of my world to be involved,” Bellando said. “While I understand the expense of time it takes, it’s my way of being and it has been important wherever I’ve lived – to be community minded and supportive because of the great things it does for people.”

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