On any given day, the Cottage Grove Armory is, at best, a work in progress. The halls echo in the empty spaces, grounded by yet-to-be-refinished hardwood floors and reminders of its long-ago abandoned function are scattered throughout the building. But on Saturday, Jan. 20, the hardwood was covered in red carpet and workmen were replaced by men in tuxedos, women in ball gowns and crowds of well-wishers and do-gooders for the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce 69th Annual Awards & Installation Banquet.
The event has moved locations from the city’s Catholic church to the Emerald Valley facility in Creswell before coming home to Cottage Grove and the armory. The transition from building under construction to red-carpet ready facility is facilitated by city crews and provides a stunning backdrop for one of the community’s most popular events.
“This event gives us the chance to honor and recognize businesses who are doing more than just conducting business,” Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Travis Palmer said. “These are people who are going above and beyond everyday business. They’re doing more to make Cottage Grove a better place.”
Nabbing 2017 Business of the Year was Territorial Seed. Handing over the reins was Cottage Grove Sentinel General Manager Gary Manly. “It was a shock to be named business of the year in 2016 and we were honored by the distinction,” Manly said. “We are pleased to pass the torch to Territorial Seed.”
In the last 30-plus years, the company has donated more than $1 million in seeds to community gardens locally and around the world.
“After losing a valued member of our staff in 2015 to cancer, we established the Territorial Seed Company/Marlece E. Arthur Memorial Scholarship through the Cottage Grove Community Foundation,” said Territorial Vice President Julie Johns of the company’s continued efforts in the community. “This annual scholarship is awarded to a high school senior who plans to attend college to study business, agriculture or veterinary medicine.”
Other winners included “First Citizen” Greg Lee who routinely volunteers his time to photograph community events, Jr. First Citizen Chelsea Armstrong and non-profit of the year, Family Relief Nursery.
“We really feel like no matter who wins, it’s important to recognize all the nominees,” Palmer said.
Also honored were South Lane Teacher of the Year Sarah Drews and classified employee of the year, Pat Ware.
“The school district, I don’t think they have an event or venue to do a teacher of the year or classified employee of the year so they’re a sign part of the community and workforce in Cottage Grove and therefore a sign part of the chamber,” said Palmer who also noted that the event was a success.