Byrnes honored by Chamber of Commerce
August 27, 2008 · Updated 4:47 PM
ARLINGTON It may be Linda Byrnes last year as superintendent of the Arlington School District, but shes going out on a high note.
Byrnes was recently named the Washington State Superintendent of the Year, and the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce honored her for her accomplishments at their Business After Hours meeting Jan. 24, before naming her Citizen of the Year, Jan. 26.
Jim Menzies was one of the first people Byrnes worked with in her teaching career and he stopped by the open house at the Skagit State Bank, Jan. 24, to congratulate her.
When I was promoted to vice principal in Lake Stevens, she took over my job as an English teacher, Menzies said. Its seldom that someone in a school district the size of Arlington gets this level of recognition, so this is a major achievement for her. When I heard the news, I was so happy because shes so deserving.
ASD Board of Directors President Kay Duskin joined Marcia Smothers in providing food for the event, but she spared some time to share her fondness for Byrnes.
I wish we could clone her, Duskin said. The most important job a school board does is hiring a superintendent and shell be a hard act to follow. Shes so dedicated to the kids. Its been more than a job for her.
I hope shell continue to remain in the public eyes, said Cascade Valley Hospital Administrator Clark Jones. The whole community will miss her.
Ray McClure, retired member of the CVH Board of Directors, expressed gratitude at Byrnes stated plans to remain in Arlington and remain active in working with the community.
Were damned fortunate that shes staying in town, with all the other things she does, McClure said. Shes just an outstanding person.
Shes one of the most special people Ive known, said Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson. She genuinely cares about people, especially kids.
Heather Logan, assistant administrator of CVH and member of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, recalled a recent moment that she cited as an example of Byrnes impact on the community.
I was sitting in the Performing Arts Center, which was a joint project between the city and the school district, made possible by volunteers, Logan said. Linda was instrumental in making that happen.
She has a tremendous ability to pull different elements together, said ASD Deputy Superintendent Warren Hopkins. She helped us pass the bond and become a first-class district.
Former Arlington Police Chief Steven Robinson credited Byrnes with a personal touch in all of her decisions.
Her heart is in it for the children, Robinson said. Shes a great administrator, but what she truly cares about are the kids, every single one of them in the district, and it shows.
Its been phenomenal to watch the way Linda has run the school district, said Barbara Tolbert, of the Northwest Experimental Aircraft Association. Ive been hugely excited by her involvement in the community.
John Meno, past president of the Arlington Rotary, brought his daughters to the open house, and echoed Byrnes contributions to the community.
Shes a rare asset, Meno said. Its unfortunate that we can only keep her for such a short term. Im sure her work will continue to benefit us, long after shes retired.
Ive known her since I was in first grade, said Danny Huleatt, a junior at Arlington High School. Shes always been someone I could look to as a leader and someone I could learn from. I dont know how she does it, but shes an awesome, all-around great person.
Dennis Byrnes responded to the praise of his wife by deeming it a tribute to the community in which they live.
Its what makes Arlington, Arlington, Dennis Byrnes said. Theres a whole bunch of good people here.
Linda Byrnes agreed with her husband, deflecting much of the credit for her accomplishments toward those with whom she worked.
Everything that I received this award for, I did together with the board and the school district, Linda Byrnes said. We couldnt have passed the bond without all of the people in the community who were there for us, time after time. Every election, not only did none of them walk away, but new people always came forward, and every one of them are still here.
This is not the end of anything, she added. Its a switch. This district will keep growing and getting better, because this community shares a passion for giving its kids the best chances in life.