The turnout at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Distinguished Citizens Award Banquet was larger this year than it has ever been, with 263 seats filled. The night’s theme was “Roll Out the Red Carpet,” in honor of the Granada Theater’s reopening last year.

Lisa Farquharson, chamber director, served as emcee for the evening. Musical entertainment was provided by Joshua Cox and Rodger Nichols.

The event was made more celebratory by the fact the chamber marks its 135th anniversary this year.

Tickets for the “Sunsational Raffle,” which featured prizes donated by over 35 local businesses, were sold by the arms-length: $20 for a string of tickets the “wingspan” of any person the buyer wished, and $10 for a “half-wingspan.”

Farquharson announced winners of the 10 or so large prizes, with the rest of the winners listed at the raffle table. Tonya Brumley of NW Natural won multiple raffles, leading Farquharson to do several redraws on Brumley’s request. “It’d better not be Tonya again,” Farquharson joked as she picked new tickets.

After releasing tables one-by-one to feast upon the buffet catered by Cousin’s Restaurant and Lounge, Farquharson welcomed Oregon Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, to give the opening address.

“I couldn’t ask for a better place to raise my kids,” Bonham said about the community.

He acknowledged Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, who was present but declined to speak. Bonham encouraged people of The Dalles to continue reaching out to him so that he can represent their needs in Salem.

Mindy McHale, outgoing chair of the chamber’s board, then recognized retiring board members Nan Wimmers and Tina Kipper before passing the gavel on to incoming chair Lisa Rundell.

“With the momentum we have going, 2018 will be a great year,” Rundell said.

She announced the 2018 board and, before turning the program back over to Farquharson, who was given a surprise gift by McHale, Rundell and the rest of the board.

McHale read an emotional tribute to Farquharson, tearing up in the middle and jokingly turning to Rundell to ask if she could finish reading it.

“This person, to me, is a great leader and someone to look up to,” she said. “Her home is a revolving door of generosity and hospitality like no other.”

Farquharson was then gifted a framed picture of the chamber office building and a round of applause.

“It’s really hard to come up here and talk after that,” she said, taking a moment to pull herself together before reading off the night’s awards:

Joan Silver was named Woman of the Year.

“There are times that our recipient appears to be related to the energizer bunny as she seems to never stop giving and serving our community,” Farquharson said. She recognized Silver’s volunteer work with the senior population, saying that Silver can always be counted on to have tickets on sale for some event at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center.

“If you sit for a moment and ask, she will leave you in awe of her passion to make life better and to protect what we have through legislation,” Farquharson said, referencing Silver’s service on multiple committees.

Upon ascending the stage and receiving her award from last year’s recipient Mary Gailley, Silver saw her kids, who had initially been asked to stay home but came to surprise her, and remarked “Oh. They came,” sparking laughter from the audience.

Chris Zukin was named Man of the Year.

“He doesn’t hesitate to grab a hammer or paintbrush to help a local organization who like to build to help those in need,” Farquharson said.

Zukin was recognized for coordinating meals for community members three nights a week and his generosity in gifting signs to the community.

“His business has been a key supporter for many events, groups, fundraisers, service groups and more,” Farquharson said. “This gentleman continues to give and never asks for anything in return.

Zukin was unable to attend, as he had left a few days earlier on an annual trip with his mother.

However, the chamber staff surprised him with the award a few days prior and took a video of his response.

The video was intended to be shown at the banquet, but due to technical difficulties, Farquharson promised to put the video on Facebook instead.

Mike Kilkenny of The Dalles Lions Club was chosen as the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year.

“He thinks nothing of going the extra mile to help his community and is always willing to help people in need,” Farquharson said. Kilkenny was recognized for his work with the Lions Club, like flipping burgers at community events and helping with sight and hearing testing at the school; but also work on his own, like helping to prepare and serve meals for those in need, helping the homeless find shelter during cold weather, and with traffic control during the downtown’s trick-or-treating event.

“This is a man who gives so much and always does it with a smile or a laugh,” she said, “I just wish he didn’t wear so much yellow and green.”

Kim Johnson of Renken Farms and Chamber Board of Directors assisted in handing out the award.

Steven Klaviter, junior at The Dalles High School, was given the Outstanding Youth Award.

Klaviter was recognized for his remarkable work ethic, having accepted roles as a volunteer, part-time Goodwill employee and a member of community special advisory board, all in addition to his role as a student. “They are not afraid of hard work or leadership; they even seek out being a leader, whether it be in the classroom or finding ways to enrich services and programs for their own peers,” Farquharson said.

Klavier has well exceeded the 20 hours of volunteer work required to graduate and intends to continue volunteering for the good of his community, Farquharson said. “They are described by community members as positive, dedicated, inspiring, energetic, with a heart for service,” she said.

Candy Armstrong, superintendent for North Wasco County School District 21, assisted in handing out the award.

Michael Holloran, Oregon State Police trooper, was named Outstanding First Responder of the Year.

“It took a lot of fibs to get this person here,” Farquharson said of Holloran. “Our recipient is the personification of the term ‘first responder’” She said, “they understand that it takes dedication, commitment, passion and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for other people like you and me.”

In addition to the requirements of his job, Holloran takes time to teach and mentor kids, she said, and doesn’t wait for kids to come find him for help —instead reaching out to them through churches, schools and chess club. Holloran was also recognized as a regular face with the Pigbowl, which raises money for families of the Gorge facing medical hardships.

“His dedication goes way beyond the badge he wears,” she said.

Andrew Myers of Peachey & Myers, P.C. and Chamber Board of Directors assisted in handing out the award.

Krystal Klebes, Wahtonka Community School teacher, was chosen as the Outstanding Educator of the Year.

“She is an encouragement to her students and a reminder to us here of what it takes to teach and lead our youth by being an example,” Farquharson said, adding that she has “the belief that in order to make your community stronger you must give of your own time and energy.”

Klebes was recognized for giving both in abundance: being an example to students outside of the classroom through volunteer work, such as dog-walking for Home at Last, helping kids build robots, and creating a play space at Wonderworks Children’s Museum.

“She is always looking for ways to enrich our community,” Farquharson said, “her service and giving heart extends to our entire community.” Last year’s recipient, Joan North of St Mary’s School assisted in handing out the award.

Rich and Brook Remington were given the Outstanding Ag Achievement Award.

“Like most farmers, our Ag award recipient is not one wishing to draw the spotlight on themselves,” Farquharson said, “but is an outstanding team, a true working team, well-known in the agricultural community for years of service and stewardship.”

Farquharson retold a story from the retired County Extension Agent, who remembered being called for a visit by the husband to discuss a project, but when he arrived, their tractor drove right by him. He was confused until he heard the husband’s voice behind him —his wife was driving the tractor.

The Remingtons were recognized for their extensive involvement in the agricultural community, including Rich’s terms as president of Wasco County Livestock Association, Columbia Rural Fire Protection District and Wasco County Wheat Growers.

The husband-wife team also won the Outstanding Conservation Award for Wasco County in 2009. “But for all they have accomplished,” Farquharson said, “their proudest moments lie in setting up the transfer of the farm operation to the next generation and the life skills and realism they have taught their daughter Amanda and son Charlie.”

When they arrived onstage, the couple said they couldn’t accept the award without recognizing their children. “They are a benefit to our society,” Rich said.

Last year’s recipient, Bryce Molesworth, assisted in handing out the award.

NW Natural was named Business of the Year.

“You can see their logo, equipment and most of all, their team, helping up and down our beautiful Columbia River Gorge event after event,” Farquharson said.

The business was recognized for their clean-up work and garbage control during many downtown and non-profit events. “Our community truly could not do our events without them as they never charge for these services or for the use of their supplies and equipment,” Farquharson said, “they lead by example and consistently demonstrate by their actions, words and positive outlook how to truly be a great community.

Tonya Brumley and her staff were invited onto the stage to receive the award. “I’m really proud of this team,” Brumley said, adding that many businesses deserved this award and that NW Natural is honored to have been chosen.

INB (formerly CenterPointe), last year’s recipient, assisted in handing out the award.

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