MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- 2012 was the year of the McKenzie River’s Bicentennial Celebration, which did much more than highlight a moment in local history. In nominating Margaret Beilharz for “Woman of the Year,” one reader noted, “We very much needed a McKenzie River focal point, and Margaret labored long and hard to make the Bicentennial a success.”

Others cited her work in fostering a renewed interest in the area’s cultural heritage, along with her “enthusiasm and commitment for the idea of celebrating the bicentennial of the discovery of the McKenzie River.”

“Without taking center stage, Margaret acted upon her own initiative to research the story of the McKenzie and bring it to the public; both tourists and residents of the river. Throughout the summer she made several presentations of that history – all requiring preparation and selfless donation of her time. Presumably, many of her activities have been invisible – such as arranging for the Mackenzie clan to visit this area during the Bicentennial Celebration. This past summer she has literally been ‘the voice of the McKenzie River Valley,’ and her efforts deserve recognition.”

Another reader summed her nomination up in this way, “Her vision to present the Bicentennial story all through 2012 united people and communities as never before in the McKenzie Valley. Usually, people come together as a reaction to a negative occurrence, and soon dissipate when the crisis is over. Now, however, the energy, cohesion and friendships from such a positive project have endured to continue into additional ventures. She made an investment of an immense amount of time on our behalf.”