Finalists named for Port Angeles awards

Chamber organizes recognition; gala Saturday

Carman Geyer.

Carman Geyer.

PORT ANGELES — The fifth annual Port Angeles Community Awards Gala will honor the finalists and place a spotlight on the winners of six community awards on Saturday.

The awards ceremony will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles. Tickets to the dinner are $75 for individuals and $550 for a table of eight.

The awards are produced by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Sound Publishing. This marks a return to the in-person gala after two years of producing the awards virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 130 nominations were submitted and the top three finalists in each category were selected by a panel of judges from the community at large.

The categories are Citizen of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year, Young Leader of the Year, Organization of the Year, Educator of the Year and Business of the Year.

Here are the finalists:

Citizen of the Year

Tim Crowley.

Tim Crowley.

Tim Crowley, nominated by Fran Howell, organizes Kiwanis Christmas lights and crossing guards for Downtown Trick or Treat, is a past organizer of the March of Dimes Walk-a-thon and a past Port Angeles Food Bank board member.

He was instrumental in getting the food bank’s new building, said Howell, president of the board for the organization, and organizes the Food Bank Tuna Drive each year.

“Tim Crowley literally lights up downtown Port Angeles in the dead of winter. He’s also known for wearing a tuna can costume in the spring. Both vividly demonstrate the positive impact Tim has had — and continues to have in our community,” Howell said.

“But Tim is best known around town as ‘Tuna Tim’ thanks to his leadership of the annual Tuna Drive,” she said.

“It’s time for Tim to get the recognition he deserves for his countless hours of service.”

Carman Geyer.

Carman Geyer.

Carmen Geyer, nominated by Emily Kirk-Pont, is a tireless volunteer on a variety of projects.

She volunteers with Nor’Wester Rotary, Boys & Girls Clubs; Olympic Kiwanis, Surfrider Foundation, Juan de Fuca Foundation, among others.

She is a board member of the Port Angeles Marathon Association, the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Dream Playground, a member of the ElevatePa Committee and organized the Port Angeles School District’s volunteer takeover of the Winter Ice Village.

Gerald Stephanz.

Gerald Stephanz.

Gerald (Jerry) Stephanz served as director of Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics and works weekly at the shelter clinic that he created. He also has served on the Clallam County Board of Health since 2017, several years as the chair, and on the Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic board since 2016.

“He has impacted countless lives,” nominator Viola Ware said, adding that “he has been doing it for over 20 years.”

“While he repeatedly reminds me he is retired, I work with him one night every week at a shelter clinic (that he created) which he won’t close until the work is done, some days not leaving until 1 a.m. or later,” she said.

”I cannot count the number of lives that have been affected in a positive way.

“He is one of the most inspiring people I have met in this work,” she continued.

Nominator Mike French said, “Dr. Jerry has quietly been one of the most prolific volunteers in our community for years.”

“Dr. Jerry combines a thoughtful, strategic mind with a huge heart, and uses these tools on a daily basis to make our community better, and he deserves recognition for those efforts,” French said.

Emerging Business of the Year

Buena Luz Bakery offers fresh baked food five days a week and is becoming a community center.

The owners and employees “define the term ‘neighborhood bakery,’” said Steve Hargis, who nominated the business along with Kahl Dietz.

Rebel Heart Coffee Co., who said the woman-owned business has three locations in Port Angeles and provided many jobs for the community.

“The vibe and culture of these fun, unique coffee shops are a great addition to Port Angeles,” said nominator Elisa Simonson.

Welly’s Real Fruit Ice Cream was nominated by Carmen Geyer, Kayla Oakes, Iris Winslow, Tommy Farris and Caleb, all of whom raved about its New Zealand ice cream and its community service.

Lillie and Jacob Phillips “are always the first to lend a hand, an ear, or open their shop up as a place for our community to gather, hold fundraisers, or other programs,” Geyer said. “Plus, they sell the most delicious ice cream.”

Oakes said that some of the store’s local partners are Olympic Angels, SisterLand Farms, Graymarsh Farms and Olympic Peninsula Humane Society.

“Welly’s is a truly generous, community-minded business,” she said.

Said Farris: “Welly’s Ice Cream has filled an incredible need for Downtown Port Angeles with a locally owned ice cream store. In what started as a couple-owned, small business from their ice cream trailer, Welly’s Ice Cream has now become one of the most flourishing brick and mortar businesses in Downtown Port Angeles inside their beautiful space in the Port Angeles Wharf.”

Young Leader of the Year

Christy Cox, nominated by Kathrine Cox and Grace Camp, chairs the boards of the county conservation district and solid waste advisory committee while owning Olympic Roots farm, which cuts the farm’s carbon footprint with a no-till approach.

Tommy Farris, nominated by Donya Alward and Julie Hatch, is the founder of Olympic Hiking Co.

He worked with Clallam Transit to bring the winter and summer shuttles to Hurricane Ridge, serves on the Washington State Tourism Association board and is the vice president and future president of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce board.

“Young Leader Tommy Farris is a rad human,” Alward said.

“I think that we would be hard pressed to find someone that has a higher level of commitment to the success and sustainability of the Olympic Peninsula.”

Sarah Tiemersma is the aquatics coordinator for Shore Aquatic Center, a volunteer emergency medical technician with the county fire district and held five free CPR/FA classes for expectant parents in partnership with First Step.

“Sarah is a valuable young professional in our community,” said nominator Jessica Compton.

Organization of the Year

Boys & Girls Clubs of Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles unit, “successfully opened up a big and beautiful center for our youth during a pandemic and during a time when our kids need support more than ever,” said nominator Geyer.

4PA, which cleans homeless encampments and is working on creating open spaces for temporary housing of the homeless in vehicles or tents and small dwellings, was nominated by Geyer, Oakes, Steve Burke, Makyla DeScala, Jim Haguewood and Tricia Murphy.

“The organization’s impact has been far and above what was expected and is doing work that public agencies have not been able to do,” Haguewood said.

Hurricane Winter Sports Club, nominated by S. Matyus, Gary Holmquist and Danielle Lawrence, is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization that has operated the ski area and ski school at Hurricane Ridge for 65 years.

”The continued commitment by volunteers and employees is what makes this organization stand out, ” Matyus said.

Educator of the Year

Crystal Bennett, Port Angeles High School special education teacher, was nominated by teacher Sherry Melin, fellow staff member Sierra McKinney, paraeducator Victoria Reid and Rachel Konrad, a parent of a special needs student.

She was described as one who “teaches even the most challenging students with care and grace and is an inspiring mentor to other educators. She assists families to negotiate state and other resources, even after they are no longer in her classroom.”

John Gallagher — nominated by Kiana Grippo, Kyleigh Van Vorst, Peyton Rudd and Annie Robertson — was lauded as a talented, caring teacher at Port Angeles High School.

“He is truly the only teacher that I can think of that fits the title of teacher of the year,” Rudd said.

John Lorentzen — nominated by Jordyn Parsinen, Beau Johnson, Sara Muñoz, Amelia Neff and Keith Laughman — saved the Port Angeles High School choral program, his students said.

Said Muñoz: “He has … inspired the next generation of musicians.”

Business of the Year

The Ballet Workshop is the “leading ballet school on the North Olympic Peninsula,” Oakes said in her nomination.

“Having a performing arts school of this caliber available in a small, rural community is very rare,” she said.

Port Book and News, “reminds us daily why now more than ever we need our local bookstores,” saaid nominator Catharine Copass. “Alan, Cindy and crew have kept us educated, inspired, connected and safe and sane (ish) during these long years of community, national and global challenges.”

MOSS has elevated the quality of businesses in downtown Port Angeles and created a space for community engagement as well,” said one of the nominators, Christine Loewe, who nominated the business along with Geyer and French.

Judges for this year’s community awards program are Howell, past Citizen of the Year finalist; past Citizen of the Year winners Steve Methner and Norma Turner; Todd Ortloff, KONP radio host; Jonathan Pasternack, director of the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra; Danny Steiger, president and CEO of Lumber Traders, Inc.; and Carla Sue, Olympic Kiwanis Club.

For more information, see Portangeles.org.

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