Erickson named Citizen of the Year

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Immanuel Lutheran Church Pastor James Erickson addresses the more than 600 people at the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner after being named the 2017 Outstanding Citizen of the Year. Erickson has touched the lives of many people young and old since he moved to Alpena in 1982.

ALPENA — Winning Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award is perhaps the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a person in Alpena. At Thursday’s Annual Chamber Dinner the 2017 winner was announced and the selection was greeted by cheers, applause and whistles.

After a brief tease which listed the accomplishments and generosity of the winner by Ryan Fairchild, many in the crowd realized it was Immanuel Lutheran Church Pastor James Erickson.

Before presenting Erickson with his award, Fairchild described Erickson’s commitment to Alpena and how many people he has had a positive impact on.

“He has touched so many people in this community, from the youth to the senior citizens and everyone in between,” Fairchild said. “Many of us have seen this person available at all hours of the day, nighttime and early morning hours and he is truly a selfless individual.”

After giving a brief thank you to the more than 600 people at the dinner, Erickson thanked his Savior and described what he was feeling.

“I am just so thankful to the Lord for the blessing of this community, these friends and the opportunity to live in a wonderful, wonderful place like this,” Erickson said.

Erickson has been a staple in the community for years. He moved to Alpena in 1982 when he was a victor at the church. He worked closely with the students at the school, the youth group and everybody that called upon him or needed his help. That kindness has carried on to today.

After a brief departure from Alpena he longed to return and the congregation at Immanuel Lutheran expressed its desire for him to come back and be its pastor. Since then his commitment to God, his family and the community as a whole has been unwavering.

“Associate pastors are only supposed to stay a few years until they get a church of their own, but having a church of my own was not a big deal to me,” he said. “I just fell in love with the community and now Alpena is my home. I couldn’t think of a more wonderful place to call home.”

Erickson wasn’t the only one who was honored at the dinner Thursday.

The business of the year winner was awarded to Alpena Agency and the Outstanding Customer Service Award was presented to Family Enterprise. The Annual Connecting the Classroom and Business Award was won by Melissa Doubek and the Up and Coming Award was given to Dinosaur Gardens.

The MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena Health Leadership Award was presented to Lafarge and the Alpena Community College Northeast Michigan Workforce Development Award was won by Alpena Power. The Culture Change Agent Award was given to Alpena Boys and Girls Club. Mari Crow won the Ambassador of the Year Award.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.