Soldotna Chamber honors those who make a difference...

The New Year in Soldotna and Kenai is traditionally a time for the Chambers of Commerce to reflect on what was accomplished in the past 12 months and acknowledge the individuals who have made that progress possible. In Soldotna 2011 Board of Directors president Ryan Kapp of Edward Jones passed his gavel to 2012 president Boyd Jorgensen of Lyndon Transport. "It was a great year! And everything all our events just seem to be getting better and better," said executive director Michelle Glaves.

Selected to receive this year's Person of the Year Award was Kenai Peninsula College director Gary Turner, "It was totally shocking, I've only been here ten years, but the college is my passion and I serve with several great organizations, and after moving around so much in the Air Force and with NASA we were looking for home. When we lived in Fairbanks and Ketchikan my wife and I came here to fish and agreed that Kenai was the place we wanted to be, so when the KPC job came up we felt that we finally had the chance to come home. So everything that we do in the community we feel comes back to us ten times over," said Turner.

Another familiar face to everyone in the Central Peninsula who was recognized as Volunteer of the Year was Kelly Keating of Blazy Construction, "It was very humbling, there are so many people in this community that volunteer so much and I just do what I can but feel there are many people who do so much more that it's very humbling to be singled out. I'm grateful to the Chamber of Commerce because they bring a lot of quality of life to this community," said Keating. Presenting the Volunteer of the Year Award Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche said, "Kelly completely operates under the radar. There is so much that he does for this community, I think of hundreds of hours he put into the Soldotna Community Playground, setting the 2-ton blocks of ice every year for the Peninsula Winter Games, going to Nicaragua to build a school for kids who were choking on the air at their old school, he's an inspiration personally to many of us and it was an honor to present him with the award tonight," said Micciche.

Others selected for recognition were: Doug & Rona Hodges for the Small Business of the Year Award, Devoted Service to Youth- Jane Fellman- Safe Kids Community Affairs Award- Josselyn O'Connor- Kenai Watershed Forum.

The Excellence in Profession Award went to Joe Gallagher of HEA, James Fisher was chosen for the Pioneer Award, and the Business of the Year Award went to Fred Meyer. As for the President's Award chosen by the outgoing Chamber Board President Ryan Kapp, chose the entire Soldotna Chamber Staff- Michelle Glaves, January Yeager, Katie Jacobson, Tami Murray & Maile Hanson, "They are just truly amazing and did a fantastic job all year long on every event in every way," said Kapp.