Port Angeles Chamber Community Awards set for Saturday

Video presentation to highlight top volunteers, businesses

Steve Methner.

Steve Methner.

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce has announced its finalists for the fourth annual Community Awards.

The chamber hosts the program and event, although the people and businesses were nominated by community members.

The winners will be announced Saturday through the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

“Every November, we accept nominations from the community for one of six categories, which are business of the year, the emerging business of the year, organization of the year, educator of the year, the young leader of the year and citizen of the year,” Chamber Events Coordinator Leslie Robertson said.

This year’s nominees follow:

Citizen of the Year

• Fran Howell was nominated for turning volunteering into a full-time job, spending at least 90 hours per month in some volunteer capacity across the community.

• Steve Methner was nominated for his work in spearheading the building of the Dream Playground on Race Street during last summer’s heatwave as well as his work with the Port Angeles Citizens for Education group, which helped pass recent school levies.

• Minnie Whalen was nominated for her work in the community and with Port Angeles schools to support children affected by trauma.

Business of the Year

• Grocery Outlet was nominated for its proactive effort in reaching out to the community to learn more about it before establishing itself.

• Port Book and News was nominated for keeping people informed and entertained throughout the pandemic and its support of local authors and book clubs.

• 7 Cedars Casino was nominated for its constant community support and consistently putting people over profit.

Emerging Business of the Year

• Port Angeles Wharf was nominated for its work in transforming the downtown of Port Angeles into a vibrant place that people want to be and for filling a much-needed entertainment gap with its arcade.

• Sisters & Co. was nominated for its family business model and positive culture that makes customers feel like family.

• Sisterland Farms was nominated for its role in helping to expand food accessibility through gleaning while also connecting and supporting the farming community.

Organization of the Year

• Clallam County Sheriff’s Department was nominated for its dedication to being accessible and approachable in the community as well as being attentive and quick to respond when situations call for it.

• Lincoln Park BMX was nominated for creating a positive atmosphere for riders and their families, regardless of skill or ability.

• North Olympic Library System was nominated for its role in keeping the many services it provides accessible to the public throughout the pandemic as well as continuously providing engaging educational programs for all ages.

Educator of the Year

• Angie Gooding was nominated for her excellent rapport and relationship with students as well as for her creativity with generating thought-provoking assignments and being highly respected among her fellow educators.

• Dwayne Johnson was nominated for his work in getting student-athletes back to playing, understanding the critical role athletics play in student development. Also for his work in establishing COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Port Angeles High School.

• Jeff Lunt was nominated for his role in taking the response to COVID-19 in the school district seriously and building a rapport with parents to keep them informed as well as keeping students safe.

Young Leader of the Year

• Luke Gavin is the only student who was nominated for this award, with judges recognizing his leadership skills with the NJROTC, his involvement in various volunteer opportunities throughout the community, his reputation and respect among his peers and older adults.

• Carmen Geyer was nominated for her long history of volunteerism and playing a major role in the Dream Playground build and her continued work as communications director for the Port Angeles School District.

• Tyler Johnson was nominated for the compassion he brings to clients as a financial advisor at Edward Jones as well as his community involvement through organizations like United Way.

The chamber brings together a cross section of judges from the community to narrow down all the nominations to the finalists and then chose the winners in each category.

This year’s judges are Jen Swanson of First Federal; Victoria Jones of North Olympic Discovery Marathon; Marti Martinez, retired U.S. Coast Guard; Jeremy Gilchrist of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation; Stephanie Thanheiser of KONP; Suz Bennett of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe; and Steve Duetermen, last year’s Citizen of the Year.

The judges narrowed down to 18 the more than 100 nominations received.

“They will go through and get to know each finalist better before determining a winner from each category,” the chamber said.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chamber would host a gala event for these nominees in January.

Last year the event was moved to a virtual one held via zoom. For this year, the chamber explored hosting a Facebook live event, but due to a constantly changing schedule, it chose to record and upload a video of the winners to the chamber’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chamber-of-Commerce-Port-Angeles/1678270355626572 and website www.PortAngeles.org.

The video will be available on both platforms on Saturday.

“We did a virtual gala last year, and it was great,” Robertson said. “It was well received, and I think we did a good job because it was new. It was a new kind of thing, you know, we’re just getting into the pandemic, people hadn’t been Zoomed or virtual evented to death yet. But then we got to this year and we’re like, ‘OK, we can’t do it in person and we can’t do a virtual event because no one is going to watch it,’” Robertson said.

The chamber opted for this rather than postpone the event due to a surge in cases.

“In January, we had to make the decision. It takes a lot of planning for a gala event, and if we had to postpone it to March, it would have been really difficult to get everything together,” Robertson said.

“It became pretty apparent in January that we weren’t going to have this event in person this year. We decided we didn’t want to take that chance at the time.”

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

Minnie Whalen.

Minnie Whalen.

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