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Community Center Director Honored With Citizen of the Year Award

Rich Duchniak has been heavily involved in Oak Creek activities as executive director of the Oak Creek Community Center for the past 13 years.

Community Center Director Honored With Citizen of the Year Award

It wasn't exactly a natural next step when Rich Duchniak left the bar business in 1999 to take over as director of the .

But nearly 13 years later, Duchniak is still at the helm of the community center, presiding over a time in which the facility has increased its number of community service offerings and grown to the point that 125,000 people pass through the doors each year.

The spirit of community service is evident in its mission -- to improve lives, strengthen community and foster civic engagement -- and in practice. Events added over Duchniak's tenure include the community tree-lighting, a Thanksgiving dinner for those in need and the summer concert series.

For his efforts, Duchniak has been named this year's Oak Creek Citizen of the Year.

"I'm honored to be a part of it," Duchniak said of the award that dates back to 1960.

But Duchniak is also quick to credit those around him, saying the center's programming originated thanks to input from his staff and other community members.

"It's a testament to all those who serve the community," he said.

Duchniak has lived in Oak Creek for the past 16 years and caught the community service bug through the people he has met, he said.

In addition to his work with the community center, he's also a member of the Kiwanis Club, participating in projects like a clean-up at this past weekend.

"I look at the community as an asset," no different than someone's house, Duchniak said.

And as an asset, it's something you want to invest in to make it the best it can be.

"You're always looking to improve it," Duchniak said.

Duchniak will be honored at the Citizen of the Year banquet at 5:30 p.m. June 8. The COY scholarship for $500 will be presented to an senior with more than 500 hours of community service.

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