PORT ANGELES — Moving to a slick online production to maintain social distancing, the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce honored local businesses and individuals in the Fourth Annual Port Angeles Community Awards — awards largely dominated by how well local people and businesses responded and adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The awards, sponsored by the Peninsula Daily News, were handed out by Terry Ward, PDN publisher.
More than 100 nominations were received this year. The top three finalists in each category were selected by a panel of judges from the community.
This past year created unique challenges and opportunities for local businesses as they continued to serve the community in light of the pandemic that largely shut down most walk-in businesses for much of the year.
Honored for their work in the community were:
Citizen of the Year
Steve Deutermann, board president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, was selected as Port Angeles Citizen of the Year.
Deutermann who served on the capital campaign for the new Port Angeles clubhouse, said he hadn’t planned to get so involved in the club when he retired in 2015.
“I wanted absolutely nothing to do with children … they’re loud, they’re kind of germy,” he said.
What changed his mind was a meeting at a unit of the Boys & Girls Club. Afterward he and clubs CEO Mary Budke encountered a young mother with several children at the unit getting into their car. Deutermann was told they were headed to Safeway and he wondered how Budke knew where they were going.
“She said, ‘The Safeway parking lot is lighted and open 24 hours and has a bathroom.’ They were living in their car,” he said.
“I joke that I don’t like kids, but if you neglect one or abuse one or deny one their childhood, you’ve got my attention,” said Deutermann, who also serves as the coordinator for Toys for Tots among other community volunteer efforts.
The other finalists for citizens of the year were Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry, who is leading Clallam County through the COVID-19 pandemic, and Patty Pastore, who leads a group of volunteers as she cleans up abandoned homeless sites, parks, ravines and other areas in Port Angeles.
Business of the Year
Lumber Traders Inc., parent company of Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co. and Hartnagel Building Supply was named the Port Angeles Business of the Year.
The company sponsors local nonprofits during community Saturdays and has provided personal protection equipment to health care workers.
“Everything we do is for the community whether that’s employees or customers. This year has been such a trying time. We’re just doing the best we can to protect the community and also keep material going. We have such a housing shortage in this area and so much work to do,” said Lumber Traders Inc. CEO Danny Steiger.
The other finalists for business of the year were Little Devil’s Lunchbox, which has won awards for its food and which has kept employees working throughout the pandemic, a nominator said, and PNW Mobile Detailing, which has donated to the community in several ways and also supported local demonstrations against racial inequality and promoted the Shop Local movement.
Organization of the Year
The Clallam County Economic Development Council was awarded Organization of the Year. The county EDC provided information and resources to help businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a really tough year. When it gets tough, people get tough,” said Colleen McAleer, CEO of the Economic Development Council.
“I’m most proud of my partners and my staff and my board. They’ve all come together and put any differences aside and recognized that we’ve got to be super effective to help out small businesses who have been so incredibly harmed during this pandemic.”
The other finalists for organization of the year included Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County, which continued to get people into homes during a pandemic, and the Port Angeles Police Department, for its focus on community engagement and policing.
Jason and Rose Thompson, owners of Fogtown Coffee Bar, won the award for Emerging Business of the Year.
Fogtown Coffee has donated coffee services for charities, provided free brown bag lunches for school students, started a fund to help unemployed service workers and repackaged 800 pounds of flour into 5-pound bags during a flour shortage.
The other finalists for emerging business of the year were Sasquatch Bakery and Ridgeline Homecare Cooperative, a unique employee-owned business that provides in-home care to elders.
Chelsea Winfield, owner of Amma’s Umma, won the award for Young Leader of the Year.
Winfield donates 50 percent of her profits to adoption assistance and gave more than 2,500 organic cotton masks to Olympic Medical Center during the pandemic.
“I have an incredible team of young, powerful, ambitious women around me. I’d be nothing without them,” Winfield said.
The other finalists for young leader of the year award were Jeremy Gilchrist, chief operating officer with the Olympic Medical Foundation, and Dylan Godsey, director of coordinated entry at Serenity House of Clallam County.
Educator of the Year
Hamilton Elementary School music teacher Dan Cobb was named Educator of the Year.
Among the highlights of his teaching is his alter-ego, Gabanzo the Monkey, who attends school assemblies and entertains through distance learning.
“This year has been a challenge with COVID. Nothing is the same as it was. In the last 20 years, very little of what I did prepared me,” he said. He credited other staff and teachers for helping him through the pandemic.
The other finalists for educators of the year were Tiffany Gillespie, principal of Olympic Christian School, and Port Angeles Roughriders boys’ basketball coach Kasey Ulin.
In addition, Legacy Awards were given to Swain’s General Store and to Ed Bedford of Bedford’s Sodas.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached at [email protected]
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce board of directors.