True Stars rise to the top at Soldotna Chamber Awards night

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The third largest Chamber in the State and chosen to receive the 2010 Outstanding Chamber of Commerce Award by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce held its 52nd Annual Awards night last week. Outgoing president Evy Gebhardt selected board treasure Becky Hutchinson of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union for the esteemed President's Choice Award. "I consider her to be inspiring, gracious and upbeat I know I speak for the entire board of directors when I say that I trust her and place a high value on her recommendations and opinions," said Gebhardt.

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Chamber president Evy Gebhardt thanks board member Ryan Smith for his past service.

The Chamber choose Paul Moses for the prestigious Pioneer of the Year Award. "We honor a recipient with this award not because they may have worn a sun bonnet or drove a pair of oxen pulling a covered wagon into town, but rather to recognize how instrumental they have been in the development of our city," said Gebhardt. Paul Moses was ordered to Alaska in 1965 by the U.S. Air Force. "It was a flip of a coin and choice was Taiwan or Alaska. The other guy won, and chose Taiwan and I ended up winning for loosing, and I've been here ever since," said Moses who was raised in upper state New York. Paul and his wife Helena moved to Soldotna in 1975 where he worked for State Mechanical and then Spenard Builders Supply where he retired in 2009. Paul was also a popular Soldotna City Councilman and Borough Assemblyman and would always bring his sense of humor to his professional and public service.

For the Person of the Year award the Chamber selected Central Peninsula Hospital CEO Ryan Smith. "It isn't simply our hospital that is a benefactor of this individual's contributions, it is our community and countless other non profits in the area," said Gebhardt. "I'm extremely appreciative to receive the award, but it's really an award for the entire hospital and health care community, our board of directors, 50 physicians, 800 employees, and 220 volunteers I'm blessed to receive the award for all of them," said Smith.

Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche presented the Business of the Year Award saying, "When our local business leaders gathered together to chart a path towards prosperity in the face of some changes on the economic horizon, this business took a leading role. Through innovation in pioneering the phrase we all know so well: 'Get Into Your Neighbor's Business' they worked collaboratively towards the benefit of our community with a significant Buy Local message that is still resonating through our city today.

To all of the non profits that call our area home, you will agree that it would be hard to pull together fundraisers, volunteers and even clients without the support of this business. They have been called the "collective archive of our community's history" and I am certain you each have a piece of that history stashed away in a family album or hanging on the refrigerator. While you may not always be on the same PAGE as they are, this business remains true to a mission focused on being the fact finders, the story tellers, the entertainers, the opinionates, and even the pundits on occasion. And for the Soldotna Chamber, it is sometimes great to have a business friend who buys ink by the barrel and newsprint by the ton. For their support of the businesses, the schools, the municipalities and the people of this community - the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce honors the employees of the Peninsula Clarion Newspaper as the 2010 Business of the Year."

Also selected for recognition by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce was Janet Pope - Volunteer of the Year, Stan Stedman - Excellence in Profession, Bill Holt - Devoted Service to Youth, and Odie's Deli was honored as the Chamber's Small Business of the Year Award.

In presenting a special award for Community, Government and Civic Affairs, Mayor Micciche said, "The greater Soldotna area is wealthy with caring people willing to volunteer to support great causes, which makes it difficult to decide the most deserving for the annual Soldotna Chamber awards. But I was excited to see the Chamber recognize a couple of groups this year that have clearly made Soldotna a better place through their vision and commitment to volunteerism. The Soldotna Community Memorial Park Design Committee was made up of 11 individuals that put all of their past issues aside to design where our community's history would finally have a place to rest. The committee included Gloria Sweeney, Eugene Fowler, Barbara Jewell, Peggy Mullen, Dr. Jay Rohloff, Dale Bagley, Nancy Eoff, Paul Grey, Sgt. Nathaniel Cossano, consultant Nancy Casey. The 2010 Soldotna Chamber Special Community Service Award essentially went to the people of Soldotna. The award recognized the roughly 900 volunteers that raised the funds, designed and built the Soldotna Community Playground in May after a year-long effort of planning and preparation. The award was presented to the volunteer Team Captains that represented the roughly 25% of Soldotna's population, the young children to the great-grandparents and everyone in between, that built our incredible Soldotna Community Playground facility," said Micciche.

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