Chamber hands out awards in vintage fashion

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Dr. Larry Horton was named this year’s recipient of Sweet Home’s Distinguished Service Award and Karla Hogan earned First Citizen honors at the annual Chamber of Commerce Awards dinner, held Saturday evening, July 24, at Sankey Park.

The “Vintage Picnic”-themed affair was planned after the chamber postponed its normal awards dinner, usually held in late February or early March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year’s awards were presented in a virtual ceremony.

“We’re finally at a time where it feels like we can start getting back to normal with planning,” Chamber Director Melody Jordan Reese told the crowd of about 150 who attended the event. “It takes a village to keep the community going. And there’s so many people who have contributed and supported.”

Additional award winners announced Saturday were Junior First Citizen Christopher Chapman and Patty Woods Woman of the Year Christy Duncan.

O&M Tire Point S was named Business of the Year, and Henry Wolthuis received the Curb Appeal Award.

Mona Waibel Hero Awards went to Jim and Lisa Gourley, Ken and Sherry Johnston, Blake Manley, Rose Peda, Susan Thompson and Maren Weld.

Mayor Greg Mahler gave a State of the City address and announced Alice Grovom as recipient of the 2021 Mayor’s Award.

Dignitaries at the event included Mahler and City Council members Susan Coleman, Diane Gerson, Lisa Gourley and Dave Trask, state Rep. Jami Cate and Sportsman’s Holiday Court Queen Haley Nunez, First Princess Kami Hart and Miss Congeniality Jess Maynard.

The program was emceed by Reese and Milt Moran, president of Cascade Timber Consulting, one of the event sponsors.

Jobe Woosley & Co. provided music through much of the program and a boxed picnic dinner was provided by Little Town Celebrations.

Distinguished Service Award

Reese introduced Dr. Larry Horton, former superintendent of schools in Sweet Home, as recipient, noting that he has been a longtime and active member of the Rotary Club, “one of the main driving forces in bringing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the region” and founded the Interact Rotary leadership program at Sweet Home Junior High, which will soon be introduced at the high school, she said.

Horton also has been heavily involved in finding solutions to the homeless issue in Sweet Home and helped develop a mentorship program between students at Western University of Health Sciences in Lebanon and Sweet Home, “just to name a few not-so-small things.”

First Citizen

Moran introduced First Citizen Karla Hogan, observing that she “must be able to live with no sleep, because (she has her) hands in everything – ready to hold, sponsor and serve at a moment’s notice.”

Hogan, he said, grew up in a “family of Sweet Home volunteers and leaders, and carries on the tradition in (her) own family.

He noted that she has been a member of the high school S.A.F.E. Committee, a current board member of the Sweet Home Economic Development Group, and is a member of the Sweet Home Christmas Committee and Sportsman’s Holiday Committee. She also is involved in Oregon High School Equestrian Team and has served on the Rodeo Committee.

Hogan founded the “more recent, yet very beloved Cut the Gut Cruise” and has been involved in “countless causes” such as Operation Happy Hearts, and is an “active” board member of the Chamber of Commerce.

Hogan, he said, “works constantly to keep the community involved in city news and projects” and is a business owner “whose team shows up at most events.”

Junior First Citizen

Reese introduced Christopher Chapman, noting that he’s lived in Sweet Home since 2005 and has dedicated “countless hours” over the years to various organizations around town with his design skills – logos, shirts, posters, stickers and multimedia projects. Chapman, she said, is a member of the Sweet Home Police Department Volunteer Group, the ArtShow Committee for SHOCASE, the East Linn Treasure Seekers, “and can often be found helping someone move or mow their lawn.” Married for seven years, he met his wife Paige while working for Figaro’s Pizzeria.

Patti Woods

Woman of the Year Award

Woman of the Year Christy Duncan has been active in a wide variety of committees and causes in Sweet Home, Moran said, including serving as president and active as a member in the Rotary Club, volunteering at the Oregon Jamboree for more than 10 years, serving as an officer and active member of PEO Chapter FA, supporting the Boys & Girls Club, and serving on the governing council and as a Sunday School teacher at her church.

“She loves being involved in the community and is very proud of Sweet Home,” Moran said.

Business of the Year

In presenting the award to Rick Funk, Reese said O&M, which has been run by his family since 1953, “goes above and beyond for the community of Sweet Home,” serving families in need, sponsoring youth sports and other youth causes.

“They have a ‘secret’ fund that folks can donate to to help families and individuals in emergencies,” she said. “This is just a short list of the all that they’ve brought to the community of Sweet Home. Plus, they love to have a good time and you can count on them to hit the pavement – or burn it – during Sportsman’s Holiday.”

Curb Appeal Award

Moran described Henry Wolthuis as “a good neighbor, very friendly, and who has a vision of bringing downtown Sweet Home back to life.”

Citing the work that Wolthuis has made with remodels of Fire Haus Ice Cream and Sugar Vibes Donut Co. locations, he noted that the retired local dentist, “has spent immeasurable time” doing research into what makes towns across the nation that are thriving tick, “in order to generate ideas of what to bring to Sweet Home.”

Organization of the Year

Reese presented the award to Susan Thompson, who chairs the Sweet Home Beautification Committee, noting that the organization has spent “countless hours” since 1980, when it was founded by Alice Grovom, “working to improve the community of Sweet Home.”

Volunteers, she said, “can be seen working, rain or shine, throughout the seasons, to help make Sweet Home a beautiful, welcoming and charming town to visit and live.”

Mayor’s Award

In announcing Alice Grovom, who was not present due to illness, as recipient of the Mayor’s Award, Mahler noted that the longtime local bookkeeper and accountant was also extremely active in many facets of the community.

She served with the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Presidents Club, Oregon Association of Public Accountants, the Chamber of Commerce, Fir Lawn Lutheran Church – where she was active in the Sew and Sews Ministry, Sweet Home Investment Club, Sweet Home Squarenaders, Sweet Home Beautification and was one of the the first two female Rotary Club members in Sweet Home.

Grovom has “significantly impacted our community,” Mahler said. The most visible representation of that, he said, are the downtown medians on Main Street, which she spearheaded and maintained.

“Alice didn’t do all of this on her own,” Mahler said. “She was able to accomplish many things in this town because she invested in the people around her. Alice built relationships while she served alongside community members and she inspired others to volunteer with her.”

Mona Waibel Hero Awards

The awards, known previously as VIP awards when Waibel presented them on behalf of the Presidents Club for many years before her death, were announced by Dawn and Bob Dalton, Waibel’s daughter and son-in-law.

Ken and Sherry Johnston were honored for their long involvement in the Singing Christmas Tree, for which Ken was heavily instrumental in the set-up of the greenery for the production, while Sherry sang in the choir for 32 years. Sherry also coordinated the Arts and Crafts Show during the Oregon Jamboree, a fundraiser for the Singing Christmas Tree, for 19 years.

“They have been devoted to, and clearly demonstrate, the volunteer spirit to the community which they love,” Bob Dalton said in presenting the award.

Rose Peda was honored for the work she accomplished during 10 years as Sweet Home’s library director.

“Her love for this community, particularly children, has indeed made her a very important person and hero in Sweet Home,” Dawn Dalton said.

Peda’s knack for grant writing helped the library acquire two new education computers, and “her summer programming brought music, art and culture from all over the world,” Dalton said. “Before the pandemic, the entire back room of the library would fill up with teenagers after school, doing homework, snacking, helping out and snacking…

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