Chamber salutes business excellence

The Fort Frances Curling Club was packed Saturday night for the fifth-annual Chamber of Commerce awards banquet–which Tony Beyak was quick to point out shortly after being sworn in as president for a second consecutive term.
“I know we have 195 people here tonight. I can think back to events not that long ago when the room wasn’t as full,” he said in his president’s message.
Beyak also said 155 business are now Chamber members. “We used to struggle to keep 100 not too many years ago,” he recalled.
Also sworn in as officers for 2000 were Marla Thomson (first vice-president), Jane Gillon (second vice-president), Kelly Spicer (treasurer), and Tannis Drysdale (past president).
Sworn in as directors were Shanda DeGagne, Eric Fagerdahl, Brian Hagarty (who emceed the evening), Bev Johnson, Sara Mainville, Jodi Huitikka, Gord Sisco, Kathy Seguin, and Deb Ward.
Board appointees include Mayor Glenn Witherspoon (Town of Fort Frances), Gary Rogozinski (Abitibi-Consolidated), Geoff Gillon (Rainy River Future Development Corp.), and Julian Morelli (Business Improvement Area).
Presentations also were made to Harvie Evans, Phyllis Johnson, and Alan Zucchiatti as retiring directors.
But the highlight of the evening, of course, was the presentation of the business awards in eight categories. This year’s recipients were:
•Charlie Turgeon–Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. Safety Award (individual/employee);
•Leon DeGagne Ltd.–Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. Safety Award (business/employer);
•Kelly Spicer and Guy Donaldson (Robin’s Donuts)–Entrepreneur of the Year award;
•Brenda Cooke (Township of Emo)–Employee of the Year (not-for-profit sector);
•Nancy Kehler (Pharmasave)–Employee of the Year (private sector);
•Red Dog Inn dining room servers–Customer Service;
•J.N. Webb & Sons–Business of the Year (1-15 employees); and
•Gillons’ Insurance Brokers/Holmlund Financial Services–Business of the Year (16+ employees).
The awards ceremony was followed by a lively round of horse racing, with thousands of “Chamber bucks” being won–and lost. It closed with a “Funny Money Sale,” in which numerous donated items were auctioned of for Chamber bucks.
A silent auction also was held throughout the evening, which raised almost $2,000–in real money–for the Chamber.
“The food was great, the service was great, everyone enjoyed it. The horse races at the end were a lot of fun,” said Guy Donaldson, recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year award along with his wife, Kelly Spicer.
“We’re quite pleased with it to be honoured by other people in business,” he added. “We didn’t have the opportunity at the banquet but we’d like to thank those who supported us, and our employees.”