Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen winners

45_shane-291NUMBER ONE – Shane Larson, first place winner in the recent VFW Patriot Pen contest, reads his winning entry at the VFW awards ceremony.




Post 7655 Veterans of Foreign Affairs and Auxiliary held their annual awards banquet on Feb. 22 to honor the winners of the Voice of Democracy contest and the Patriot Pen.

The guests were welcomed by Post Commander Bert Rigby and Auxiliary President Donna Sorlie.  Guests were introduced and present were District 2 Commander Merrill Hawley, CHS teach Kendall Griggs and UMS teacher Tara Thielmann.  All recited the Pledge of Allegiance and musician Bernice Paisley led us in the National Anthem, followed by the table prayer led by Post Chaplain George Erickson.

Voice of Democracy Chairman Marilyn Waite explained the contest and this year’s theme, “Does America Still Have Heroes.”

Sydney Slezak was the first place winner, Johnny Schlosser took second place and Rachel lamb was the third place winner.

Slezak also placed second in the district judging and will receive a scholarship when she enters college.  Her hero is her grandfather Glen Baker and he helped present the awards.

Voice of Democracy judges were veterans Everett Snortland, Reid Stuart, Cheryl Tornga and Bernice Paisley.

Patriot Pen Chairman Bert Rigby explained the contest and this year’s theme, “When is the Right Time to Honor our Military Heroes.”

Shane Larson won first place, Michaela Deboo took home second place and Kindra Fischer was the third place winner.  The judges were Toni Bishop, Cheryl Sawyer, Robert Skorupa and Mary Kuka.

George and Cheryl Tornga were awarded a Special Citation for their daily display of the Flag and Tornga was given a Special Citation for promoting the Patriot ideals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Tornga was in the Air National Guard with a rank of Staff Sergeant.  He went to work for the Great Northern Railroad, Burlington Northern/Sante Fe for a total of 32 years and served in many important offices.

He has always volunteered for numerous youth projects, the Pondera Arts Council, manager of the Orpheum Theatre, Chamber of Commerce board, helped with Whoop-Up festivities, Harvest Festival, Christmas Stroll, Chamber Banquet and the Centennial Committee to celebrate Conrad’s 100th birthday.

Tornga also helped with the restoration of the town clock which he says was a labor of love.  He donated over 300 hours on it and it’s a beautiful clock and back in its proper place on Main Street for all to enjoy for years to come.

He can be seen most anywhere and his winning smile and friendly manner is a great asset.  George and Cheryl have been married over 42 years and raised four sons.  The oldest two are serving in the Navy as Lieutenant Commanders.  Blake is aboard the USS Nimitz.  Brent is at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas as a training officer.  Brian is a police officer in Connecticut and Brock is a musician and barber in Texas.  Tornga was presented with a special gift of a Red Caboose birdhouse made by Walter Waite to honor his 32 years with the railroad.