The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce handed out community and business awards Friday at its 44th annual awards banquet at the Soldot-na Elks Lodge.
The gala ceremony included dinner, a no-host bar, door prizes and entertainment by Robyn Sullens and Debbie Wells. Awards were presented for the chamber's regular annual awards, which include the Devoted Service to Young People award, Volunteer of the Year, the Pioneer Award, Chamber Business of the Year and Person of the Year. Addition-ally, the chamber handed out seven scholarship awards to outstanding area students.
This year's Pioneer Award went to longtime resident Katherine Parker, who has lived in Soldotna since 1961. Parker was recognized by the chamber as "an individual who was instrumental in the development of our city." 2002 chamber president Lisa Wimmer, who presented the award, noted Parker has worked as a newspaper reporter, amateur historian and, along with her late husband, Charlie, owned the Map Shop.
Wimmer said Parker was someone who always took the time to be involved in the Soldotna community.
"Being a reporter was a way for her to talk to people while hiding behind the job. It also offered her the opportunity to be involved with all the community happenings," Wimmer said.
She also said the Parkers were responsible for donating land for the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center and Parker Park.
Another longtime area resident, Merrill Sikorski, was honored as the chamber's Person of the Year.
Sikorski is most well-known to area residents as an on-air personality at radio stations KSRM, KKIS and KSLD. He also owns a consulting firm.
Sikorski was presented the award by Robyn Sullens, who said Sikorski has spent years as an active member of the community, helping out with such public service projects as the Caring for the Kenai contest.
Before presenting the award, Sullens read several letters from Sikorski admirers, including Lt. Gov. Loren Leman.
"Through your dedication to wise stewardship and communication of these principles to the public, including recruitment of young people into the effort to 'Care for the Kenai,' you have distinguished yourself as a leader on the central Kenai Peninsula," Leman's letter read.
Other award winners included:
n Donna Mortenson, who was presented the Volunteer of the Year award for donating countless hours to a number of local organizations, including the Soldotna Elks, the Peninsula Quilters Guild, the Kenai River Classic and the chamber.
n Steve Horn as the Devoted Service to Young People award winner for supporting youth groups such as Little League, Junior Golf, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Peninsula Oilers and the Chal-lenger Learning Center of Alaska.
n Southcentral Title Agency as Business of the Year.
n The chamber's $1,000 Outstanding Student scholarships to Soldotna High School students Samantha Penner, Pehr Hartvig-son and Amy Breakfield; Sky-view High School student Christina Colvin; and Lisa Greenleaf, a student at Kenai Peninsula College. In addition, $1,500 Vera Horwath scholarships were presented to Skyview students Ryan Staab and Naomi Miller.
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