Ed Barnes, second vice president of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council and a retired business manager of IBEW Local 48, has been chosen the 2019 Clark County First Citizen.
Barnes, 85, lives in Vancouver, Washington, with his wife LuAnne.
“I was speechless when I got the call,” said Barnes. “I feel very honored to be getting this award.”
The award is presented annually to a Clark County resident “who has modeled exemplary citizenship through actions and services to the community.”
Barnes is the first union official to receive the award, which dates back to 1939.
The program is a partnership between the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, The Columbian newspaper, Biggs Insurance Services, and PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Foundation, and it’s presented by Pacific Premier Bank.
A pool of candidates is collected through public nominations, then a winner is chosen by a volunteer committee that includes past winners.
Barnes was nominated by Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, former state senator Al Bauer, and two previous First Citizen recipients Sally and Robert Schaefer. The nomination form was signed by 75 other people under a statement proclaiming Barnes’ continued commitment to service.
“It is no exaggeration to say that listing Ed’s significant accomplishments over his decades of leadership in our community, along with his awards and achievements, by volume alone would make this letter virtually unreadable,” the group wrote.
As reported by the Columbian newspaper:
“A union man, U.S. Army veteran and volunteer with many local organizations, Barnes served as a private during the Korean War before passing up an opportunity to go to West Point in favor of returning home to Vancouver and becoming an electrician.
“He went on to a decades-long career with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union. For 12 years, he served as business manager and financial secretary for Local 48, retiring in 1996.
“Barnes’ volunteering résumé is lengthy. He joined the effort to build the United Methodist Church in the Shumway neighborhood, served as the state’s Transportation Commissioner and was co-chair of the I-5 Corridor Committee. He served on several community boards, including the Ronald McDonald House and Open House Ministries Housing Project. He founded the Truman Elementary Parent Teacher Organization with his wife, and the couple worked together to help the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Alcoa Little League.
“And those are just the highlights.”
In 2014 Barnes was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Clark County board of commissioners. He’s also a very strong supporter of the need to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge. In October he help shepherd through a resolution at the Northwest Oregon Labor Council supporting efforts to begin a new project development process for an I-5 replacement bridge.
He’s now busy trying to raise funds to build a “Wall of Remembrance” for the Korean War. The wall, which will be built in Washington, D.C., will contain the names of the 36,574 soldiers who gave their lives during the war.
In 2016 Congress gave the okay to raise private funds to build and maintain the wall. The Korean War Memorial Foundation Inc. was formed and is currently trying to raise $60 million. Barnes is reaching out to labor groups for donations.
“All Americans who make the supreme sacrifice serving our nation deserve to be publicly honored by name,” said Barnes.”Out of respect for our fallen American service members, we consider it our duty, our privilege, and our obligation to properly memorialize them.”
The final page of the First Citizen nomination form read: “Ed Barnes retired from his employment with the IBEW nearly two decades ago, but if you believe Ed Barnes has retired from supporting his IBEW local, organized labor nationally, his church or community, you just don’t know Ed Barnes.”
A ceremony honoring Barnes will take place April 9, 2019.