Unsung Heroes honored at Kenai Community Awards Ceremony

Posted: Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The custom of honoring the un-sung heroes in our community who consistently contribute to the well being of Kenai and make this a great place to live, work and play is a valuable tradition carried out annually by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. "These are humble folks, so we have to be very secretive until the Awards Ceremony or most of them would chose not to be present, and intrigue makes it fun," said Carol Bannock, executive director for the Kenai Chamber. The keynote speaker at this year's presentations was Kip Knudson, external affairs manager for Tesoro and chair for the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. He addressed the reasons why Alaska was ranked the least favorable state to do business in the U.S. and presented tangible ways for the Kenai Chamber to partner with the State Chamber in communicating that Alaska is not only open for business, but a great place to do business.

This year the Kenai Chamber honored the Friends of the Kenai Library as the Outstanding Organization of year, with Sal Mattero accepting the award. David Schilling and the Uptown Motel, Louie's Steak & Seafood, and the Back Door Sports Bar were given the Small Business of the Year Award. "This group has provided the Chamber with support whenever asked and has added a touch of class to many, many events and social gatherings, with family roots that trace as far back as the Chamber itself," said KCC board president Deb Milam in presenting the award.

Tim Navarre was the recipient of this year's Community Service Award. "He is a past Borough Assembly member, co-chair of Industry Appreciation Day providing for all the food items needed to feed 4,000 people, and has done so since inception of that unique celebration. Tim's list of community service is long and includes being our community Santa Claus from time to time," said Milam. The 2010 Volunteer of the Year was Jodi Stuart. "The word 'no' is not part of her vocabulary. If there is something that needs to be accomplished she is the first to volunteer. She is a very active member of the Kenai Chamber Ambassadors, and is secretary of the Soldotna Rotary Club in addition to being a member of an organization that celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2010, devoting countless hours to the Boy Scouts of America," said Milam. Gary Toombs and Coca Cola of Kenai were presented with the Service to Youth Award as an individual and business who has consistently donated time, effort and funds to benefit the youth of the community. To receive the President's Award, Milam chose Brendyn Shiflea of FNBA. "Brendyn consistently went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the Kenai Chamber had a successful year. In 2010 the Chamber was faced with hiring a new Executive Director and getting her up to speed on the Chamber operations. Brendyn was instrumental in hiring a qualified candidate and is being recognized for his tireless efforts and dedication to the Kenai Chamber of Commerce," she said.

Just a few days after being honored by the City of Kenai for his dedicated year of service to the Parks and Recreation commission, Dale and Barb Sandahl were selected to receive the Pioneer Award presented to a person or persons who have been in the Kenai area for at least 25 years, and who have been instrumental in the development of business educational, cultural or recreational activities during their period of residence.

It is an unwritten law in Alaska that a cabin in the wilderness is a refuge to all weary travelers. A moral obligation requires those using a cabin to replenish the wood and supplies, thus leaving the cabin ready for the next traveler. Therefore the Chamber's Log Cabin Award is presented to person(s) who have traveled to and lived in Kenai for the past 10 years, provided something special to the community and, because of this, leave it a better place to live. Roy Wells was chosen by the Chamber to receive this year's Log Cabin Award. "This has to be at the top of any award I've ever received, to have lived in an area long enough to make it a better place is a huge honor," said Wells. The evening continued with an inspirational pep talk from Kenai Mayor, Pat Porter inspiring all to make the most out of the 'dash' in our life. The dash being the line on an epithet between your birth date and the day you pass away.

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