Citizen of the Year 

 Citizen of the Year honors individuals who made outstanding contributions to enhance the business community and the community at large and who have given freely of their time, talent, energy and expertise.  Eileen Bailey of EI. Kristyn & Son, Nicole Frazier of My Painted Heart, and Rob Wilson-Hoss are on the ballot for 2017

Citizen of the Year 2016 - Xinh Dwelley


Xinh Dwelley began her culinary journey as a teenager picking up odd jobs at a US Army mess hall.  In 1970, she landed a job as an oyster shucker with Taylor Shellfish who helped her open her own Asian fusion restaurant featuring local shellfish in 1996. Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House became one of the first regionally recognized restaurants—paving the way for others. Xinh donates her food, time, and talent to countless civic groups and non-profits. Even as she made plans this year to close the restaurant, she continues to commit to benefits and special events which will take place after her retirement. She also saves money all year long so that she may purchase food and supplies for a leper colony near her hometown in southern Vietnam. “Her life and career serve as an example of what is right about this country… the possibilities, the potential, and the success that can be attained with true passion and an incredible work ethic.”

A Nod to Our Remaining Nominees


Amy Cooper moved to Mason County with her college sweetheart, Forrest, and opened Cooper Studios in 2009. Quickly building the business and her reputation within the community, Amy has generously lent her talents and creativity to several organizations. In her role with Shelton Downtown Merchants she co-coordinates Holiday Magic with the Kristmas Town Kiwanis Club and this year she was instrumental in developing Halloween Spooktacular—an event partnership between Downtown Merchants, the Journal, and an enthusiastic group of local residents and businesses. Amy also donates her time to the Forest Festival Association Board, the City of Shelton Arts Commission, the Shelton High School CTE Advisory Board, and the Chamber’s Downtown Visioning Committee. “Amy’s passion, generosity, and enthusiasm for Mason County are undeniable. She dives in to any effort that needs her and that, in itself, is awe inspiring.”


Kevin Shmelzlen is receiving a nod for his innovative approach to creating safe, clean spaces. Coming to Mason County with a Political Science degree from UC Irvine and nearly a decade of experience in volunteer coordination, Kevin wasted no time in applying his talent to this community. His movement “Shelton to the Top” began earlier in the year as a means to provide residents with a sense of ownership and community pride by cleaning up abandoned or dump properties. After early projects gained momentum, Kevin partnered with United Way of Mason County for its Day of Caring to complete significant and visible property clean-ups in local neighborhoods. His nominator said “It is clear that Kevin has a knack for bringing people together. He blends that with his passion for the environment in a way that is astonishing.”


See a complete list of past award winners.