Service -- of all kinds -- to the community was the theme Friday night as the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet Friday night at the Soldotna Elks Lodge.
Community members were honored by the chamber for various examples of community service and civic involvement. Even one of the wait staff for the banquet got in on the theme, if not in a slightly embarrassing way. As Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey began presenting the Devoted Service to Young People Award to Linda Raenaeker, one of the evening's servers loudly dropped a large tray, only to make a quick recovery and catch the large disk, in stride, and return it to the kitchen.
Carey, a teacher and wrestling coach at Skyview High School, quickly covered for the young man, quipping, "Did you see that? Wow, that was great. We need him on our wrestling team."
The lighthearted atmosphere was predominant at the banquet, as the evening was filled with humor and camaraderie among the roughly 100 who attended the event.
Even the police officers in attendance were in a lighthearted mood.
Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Gifford contributed to the tone of the evening by gently ribbing one of the evening's winners, Soldotna police officer Greg Landeis, for possibly being too dedicated to his job.
She told the crowd how she had convinced Landeis to attend the ceremony under false pretenses by telling him he'd be needed as an added security measure.
"Greg said, ''Is there anything in particular I should be looking for?'" deadpanned Gifford, to the delight of the audience.
The only thing Landeis needed to worry about was accepting his award, as he and fellow officer Duane Kant were honored with the Community and Civic Affairs award for their involvement with the DARE program, which educates young people about the perils of drug and alcohol abuse.
Other awards presented on the evening included the chamber's Volunteer of the Year award, to Jerry Near; Excellence in Profession, given to Dayne Clark; Business Person of the Year, won by Scott Sheldon; and Person of the Year, which went to Ginger Steffy.
All of the honorees were presented with plaques from the chamber for their devoted service to the community.
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