After a year, or in some cases 25 or more, of hard work and dedication to their community, several Kenai residents were formally recognized for their contributions in a somewhat ironic ceremony Saturday -- the irony being that recognition and awards have nothing to do with why they volunteered in the first place.
Nevertheless, seven service awards were given out at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce's 27th anniversary Town and Gown awards ceremony Saturday at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.
"I thought it was fabulous," said Carol Bannock, executive assistant of the Kenai chamber." It was simple and elegant and everyone had a great time. There was time to catch up with good friends and meet new ones."
There also was time to honor -- and in many cases completely surprise -- the evening's award recipients.
The prestigious Log Cabin award, given to those who exemplify the ideals of community spirit, went to Tim and Terri Wisniewski, who own Peninsula Memorial Chapel, Tim's Carpet and Steam Cleaning service and The Haircutters salon.
"I have never been so surprised for all my life," Tim said. "I was sitting there wondering 'who's going to get picked' and they started talking about a guy who moved here from Toledo, Ohio, and I said 'that eliminates about 99 percent of the people in this room."
Tim moved to Kenai from Toledo in 1976 to start his own funeral home. Terri came up from Minnesota for a visit in 1978 and liked Kenai so much she moved here permanently. They met and married in 1980 and have built a home, grown their businesses and raised their family here.
Tim's family was the main reason why he chose to be involved in his community.
"Even though I've been here just half of my life, it seems like that's the half that counts," he said. "I met my wife here and my family and church is here -- it's been really nothing but positive. I guess when you have your family here it just makes you want to do whatever you can to make it a better place.
"If I sat down 27 years ago and described where I wanted to move and how I wanted the place to be and the people to be, I couldn't have hit it on the head any better. It is just a dream come true here in Kenai."
Tim served on the Kenai Cemetery Committee from 1984 to 1985, the Beautification Committee from 1983 to 1990, the Memorial Park Committee from 1986 to 1987 and the Parks and Recreation Committee from 1995 to the present.
"You never start doing anything or working with the community because you think you're going to get an award, but it was sure nice for people to feel that way," Tim said. "... Obviously there are so many other people that do things that don't get recognized. It was just humbling because I don't know if I even deserve something like this. This to me seems like a lot of people who voiced their thoughts about us, and that's what's nice about it."
It is this humble attitude that makes Tim such a good choice for the Log Cabin award, said Kenai City Council and Town and Gown awards nomination committee member Pat Porter.
"(The Log Cabin Award) is giving to the community and expecting nothing back in return," she said. "Tim has always been kind of behind the scenes. Tim has never been a person that expected any recognition and that makes it even better."
According to Bannock, all of this year's award winners are like that.
Frank and Greg Getty of Kenai, who recieved the Community Service award for their work in beautifying the Kenai Cemetery, certainly fit that bill.
"I think it was marvelous," Frank said. "We didn't expect anything like that. Our goal is to just get the cemetery looking good. I was shocked, and so was Greg, but we were very appreciative for it, and we thank everybody in Kenai for it."
Frank and his son, Greg, put in hundreds of hours of work at the cemetery during the spring, summer and fall of 2002. They started their ambitious project after visiting the grave of Charlene "Muzzie" Getty -- Frank's wife and Greg's mother -- on Mother's Day. While they were placing flowers and beautifying her grave, they noticed the cemetery's state of disrepair and decided to do something about it.
Through their hard work and with money from their own pockets and donations from community members and businesses, they've tackled such projects as removing litter; marking unmarked graves with crosses Greg made; installing flag holders along the drive; resetting and cleaning sunken headstones; landscaping; painting and repairing fences; hydroseeding and repainting the entrance sign.
Frank said they plan to continue their work this year and hope to install pathways and a gazebo in the cemetery.
"I think it was only fitting and well deserved," said Bob Frates, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Kenai, of Frank and Greg receiving the award. "Looking back at the countless community service hours performed over at the cemetery, it's outstanding."
The Gettys were presented with a plaque from Sen. Tom Wagoner, honoring them for their work.
"The community spirit shown by Frank and Greg Getty has set an excellent example for the citizens of the Kenai Peninsula," the plaque reads. "Anyone with a loved one or friend buried in the Kenai Cemetery can appreciate the scope of their endeavors."
The Volunteer of the Year award was given to Scott Hanson of Scott Hanson's Custom Carving for his donations to projects sponsored by the chamber over the year. He donated the bear table that sits in the Hooked on Kenai Headwaters site in the Kenai Municipal Airport, the use of a giant picnic table for the Fourth of July festivities, a glass-top podium that was used and auctioned off at the Hooked on Kenai Wild Festival, and the use of a giant chair for Santa's use during the Christmas Comes to Kenai festivities, which will be used in the Kenai Performer's upcoming production of "The Wiz."
Robert and Bonnie Peterkin were bestowed the Pioneer Award, which is given to someone who has been in the Kenai area for at least 25 years and who has been instrumental in developing business, educational, cultural or recreational activities in the community.
The Peterkins, who have lived here for 37 years, have raised four sons here and started their business, Peterkin Distributors, in 1966. They have been Kenai chamber members for more than 30 years, and in 2002 they received the Outstanding Oil Field Support Award at Industry Appreciation Day.
Through the years they have been involved with Peninsula Oilers Baseball, Little League Baseball, the Kenai Harbor Commission and the Peninsula Food Bank.
DATM Radio Shack was chosen as the Hooked on Kenai Exhibitor of the year. The recipient of this award was selected by community members and visitors who voted on which decorated Hooked on Kenai king salmon they liked the most. The salmon is currently on display at the chamber cabin.
The Business Award was given to Snug Harbor Seafoods for consistently contributing to the community. Paul Dale and Brenda Stoops of Snug Harbor Seafoods have been involved in many aspects of the commercial fishing industry for nearly 25 years. Dale served as a Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member in the 1980s and both have been active in community fund-raisers and nonprofit organizations.
They played a large role in the Kenai Wild program and have repeatedly donated time and services to the chamber, including the oyster bar at the Town and Gown awards and the Hooked on Kenai Wild Festival.
The President's Choice award was given to Mike Nugent, general manager at Agrium, and his wife, Dixie, by chamber board president Cherie Brewer.
"Their continued dedication and support to the activities of the chamber as a couple have been invaluable, not only to the Kenai chamber, but to the community as a whole," Brewer said.
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