Business award winners feted at gala

Businesses from across Rainy River District were in the spotlight Saturday night during the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s 10th-annual business awards.
A record 96 individuals and businesses were nominated in 13 categories this year which, when combined with the various past award winners invited to attend, made for a crowd of over 200 people at La Place Rendez-Vous.
The United Native Friendship Centre won the first-ever Town of Fort Frances Accessibility Advisory Committee Accessibility Award while Fire Chief Steve Richardson of the Fort Frances Fire Department accepted both Safety Awards (Individual/Employee and Business/Employer).
Randy Thoms of Shaw Cable won Employee of the Year while the Tony Beyak Memorial Volunteer of the Year went to Ruth Caldwell.
The Customer Service Award (Individual) was give to Bruce Armstrong (Gillons’ Insurance) while Pinewood Sports & Marine earned the Customer Service Award (Business).
The Business Woman of the Year Award, a new award category this year which drew 21 nominees, went to Angie Korzinski (Rusty Myers Flying Service).
Meanwhile, Larry George (Wayne George Grading) was named Entrepreneur of the Year.
Business of the Year (1-15 employees) went to Kish-Gon-Dug Canada Ltd. while Business of the Year (16+ employees) was awarded to Beaver Mills Market in Rainy River.
Two special one-time awards, in honour of the Chamber’s 10th-annual gala, also were handed out Saturday.
Ernest Thompson Distributors was recognized as Business of the Decade while the Lifetime Achievement Award, intended for businesses that have been around for a minimum of 25 years, went to Gillons’ Insurance Brokers.
Mayor Dan Onichuk, John Harrison, Barb Everett, Lynn Beyak, Bev Kotnik, Angela Halvorsen, Emo Reeve Russ Fortier, Ala Dulas, Alan Tibbetts, Marlene Deschamps, and Paul Pirie announced the award winners.
Reeve Fortier, who chairs of the Rainy River Future Development Corp. board of directors, also recognized the RRFDC’s 2005 Customer Service Champion Awards on Saturday night.
These 10 businesses, which previously were announced May 18, included Cloverleaf Shop Easy, Energy Motivation Fitness Centre, Fort Frances Chiropractic Centre, Gagné Pharmacy, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, Northwoods Gallery & Gifts, Peterson’s Food Town, Pharmasave, Sears/Rainy River Duty-Free, and The Great Bear.
Honourable mentions went to The Corner Closet, Dairy Queen, Edward Jones, Fort Frances General Supply, Holmlund Financial, La Place Rendez-Vous, Norlund Oil, Super 8 Motel, Tim Hortons, and Tompkins Hardware.
Chamber first vice-president Christine Denby emceed the event while Gus MacDonell ran the “Dutch auction” for a portable DVD player, a weekend stay at Trail’s End Lodge, and a 52” HDTV.
The evening also included a silent auction, with nearly 40 items donated by district businesses up for bid.