City officials, local residents and Chamber of Commerce members gathered Saturday, Jan. 18, in the Cottage Grove Armory for the 71st Annual Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Installation and Awards Dinner.
Master of Ceremonies Ned Hickson, Managing Editor of the Cottage Grove Sentinel, hosted the event as awards were distributed to members of the community under a variety of categories.
Starting the night off, Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Chair Ruth Linoz presented two scholarships to students for their volunteerism, community service, academic excellence and extracurricular activities.
“We wanted to emphasize what these students do in the community,” said Linoz.
Eight students wrote essays in application for the scholarships. The Junior First Citizen Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Austin Dempsey while the Junior First Citizen Scholarship of $750 was awarded to runner-up Oden Armstrong.
The Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes significant community contribution through outstanding dedication and volunteer service to the city, was awarded to citizens Alice Nowicki and Ken Schwieger.
“They are quite involved in just about every activity in the town you can imagine,” said presenter Russ McGuire, last year’s recipient.
“We do what we do because we strongly feel that if you are in a community, you need to step up,” said Nowicki.
Next, the Community Impact Award was given in honor of a person who has made a lasting positive impact on the community. This year’s recipient was local developer Len Blackstone.
Blackstone’s projects have included the Stewart Building and Bank Building on downtown Main Street as well as brokering the Cottage Grove Industrial Park. Currently, Blackstone is planning development on the old Harrison Elementary School property.
“I know what it means to struggle. I know what it means to fail. And I know what it takes to turn around,” said Blackstone. “I can tell you the only reason we were able to do that was because of this community.”
Following up was the Nonprofit of the Year Award, which is given to organizations representing an outstanding model of mission achievement and community impact through innovations, leadership, partnerships and community empowerment.
This year’s winner was Bohemia Mining Days for its consistent work on a “shoestring budget” and positive economic and social impact on the community.
Festival Coordinator Cindy Weeldreyer accepted the award.
“I have had the very best team a festival coordinator could dream of for the last two years,” she said of the festival, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last July.
Presenter Mike Fleck, director of last year’s award recipient Community Sharing, also spoke highly of nonprofit nominee Opal Center for Arts & Education.
“Opal provides a space to create that is not available anywhere else in our town,” said Fleck.
First Citizen Award was presented by last year’s recipient Ana Maria Dudley. The award is given to a person who has participated actively in a variety of service projects and programs leading to civic improvement, human welfare and/or environmental enhancement.
This year’s recipient Lloyd Williams was awarded for his service in city committees and wide-ranging work with several organizations, mainly those oriented around the town’s history.
“Through his work on the Historic Landmarks Commission and the Historical Society, he has been instrumental in helping preserve the special character of Cottage Grove for current and future generations,” said Dudley.
Nominee Reilly Newman was also given an honorable mention.
“Reilly has lived, worked and served the community of Cottage Grove for most of her life,” said Dudley, citing Newman’s work with the Urban Forestry Committee, the Lions Club, the Row Basin Partnership and her securing of Hiroshima Peace Trees for planting in the city. “Reilly Newman is truly an asset to Cottage Grove.”
Next, the PACE (President’s Award for Community Excellence) Award was presented. The award is chosen when the Chamber Board President feels additional special recognition is warranted. It conveys gratitude for years, decades and sometimes even lifetime of service and dedication to the betterment of the community.
This year’s awardee was South Lane County Fire & Rescue Division Chief Joe Raade for his many community projects, volunteer work and involvement in a variety of local organizations.
“I’ve found it hard to say that two-letter word ‘no’ too often,” said Raade.
In closing, the Business of the Year Award was given to a Cottage Grove business for outstanding achievement in good business practices and involvement in the community.
Winner Coast Fork Feed Company & Brew Station was awarded for its efforts to support youth and their families with walking and running events, promotion of the Cottage Grove area and family events.
“How lucky am I to work with the people I love most,” said owner Dale Smith. “The beautiful thing about family is you don’t have to give birth to all of them. And that’s the case at Coast Fork Feed & Brew Station. We really are a family and I think that’s what we bring to the community.”
Nominee Advanced EyeCare Associates was also honored for its commitment to using local materials for projects and giving back to the community through donations.
The event brought in more than $3,100, which will be dedicated toward next year’s scholarships and banquet.
Sponsors included Blackstone, Inc., Windermere Real Estate, Banner Bank, South lane County Fire & Rescue, Pacific Power, Lane Electric Cooperative, Cottage Grove Sentinel, Emerald People’s Utili-ty District, KNND, Lane Community Center (Cottage Grove Center), PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center, 5 Flying Monkeys/Shampoo Dolls, Bohemia Sunrisers Kiwanis, Coast Fork Feed Company & Brew Station, Edwards Jones, PayneWest Insurance and Umpqua Bank.