Chamber honours businesses, individuals

“I thought it went wonderfully.”
That was how Dr. Bruce Lidkea, president of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, described its third-annual business awards banquet Saturday night at La Place Rendez-Vous.
More than 150 people were on hand to see who would take home the plaque in each category. Canada Safeway was the big winner, taking top spot in two categories–Customer Service and Business of the Year (16 or more employees).
Other winners included:
•Russ Ling of tagg’s Source for Sports (Employee of the Year);
•Doug Anderson, chairman of the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition (Abitibi-Consolidated’s Safety Award for an Individual);
•The Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition (Abitibi’s Business/Employer Safety Award);
•Mark Faragher of Nova Body Works (Entrepreneur of the Year); and
•Fort Frances General Supply (Business of the Year–15 or less employees).
Ling, for one, said he always thought he was just doing his job so it was great to get this kind of recognition from his peers.
Faragher also was at a loss for words after receiving his award, adding he didn’t realize the banquet was such a big affair.
“I think this year we had more nominations than ever,” Dr. Lidkea said. “It’s to be expected. There are a lot of great businesses and people in the community.”
But it was long-time Chamber member Gord McBride who generated the most applause–and a standing ovation–when he was honoured as the first recipient of the James Paull Trophy for Outstanding Contribution (named for the man believed to be the first president of the local Chamber of Commerce 100 years ago).
And with that came a lifetime seat on the Chamber’s board of directors.
“Gord is probably one of the best things that every happened to the Chamber,” Dr. Lidkea enthused.
The silent auction, which ran throughout the evening, brought in about $2,000.
“It was a little more this year because we offered some larger items,” Chamber executive director Heather Herbert noted.
The new Chamber executive for 1998 was sworn in Saturday night, which also features Bill Lane (first vice-president), Al Zucchiatti (second vice-president), Kelly Spicer (treasurer), and Tanis Drysdale (past president).
Rounding out the Chamber board this year are Mike Behan, Tony Beyak, Elaine Caron, Jane Gillon, Todd Hamilton, Phyllis Johnson, John McTaggart, Kathy Seguin, and Trevor Szmon.
Appointees for 1998 include Mayor Glenn Witherspoon (Town of Fort Frances), Harvie Evans (Abitibi-Consolidated), and Geoff Gillon (Rainy River Future Development Corp.)
Drysdale also recognized retiring directors, who included Rob Heenan, Dave Jacobson, Nancy Kantor, Gord McBride, and Rob Heenan.
A dance featuring “B.N.T.” of Thunder Bay was held after the business awards were handed out.