12th annual Florence Area Chamber of Commerce Siuslaw Awards

Photos by Laura Wilson for the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce

Awards night honors residents, businesses for service to region

Feb. 15, 2020 — On Feb. 12, Florence Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the 2019 Siuslaw Awards with community members at the Florence Events Center. Attendees indulged in gourmet hors d’oeurves catered by event center staff, sipped wine with their tablemates and recognized two dozen businesses and nine area residents who were nominated for the chamber’s 12th annual business awards.

“We live in a most amazing community — a community where most people care about one another and where philanthropy is really a part of the DNA of who we are,” said Pastor Dale Edwards of Cross Road Assembly of God.

In his convocation at the opening of the awards, he talked about giving honor where honor is due.

“In this room tonight, there are many people who do a wonderful job of taking care of people,” Edwards continued. “Honor can be given to anyone in this room. Each one of you is worthy of honor, and for that we are grateful.”

Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan led the evening’s program, which included a State of the Chamber Address with Chamber Board President Neil Ecker and the presentation of the Siuslaw Awards.

“I want to take a moment to talk about our business community and our entrepreneurs,” Hannigan said. “You are one courageous group. You have the courage to be optimistic. We don’t hear a lot of optimism these days, yet in spite of the negativity that could be overwhelming, each one of you has chosen to evaluate the risks and assets and you’ve chosen to do business. As a result, we have employers for our community, shops for our locals and our tourists, amazing restaurants, healthcare and some fun attractions. Thank you for your courage and for being optimistic.”

The first award of the night was the 2019 Distinguished Service Award, which was given to “a valued member of the chamber and a person who goes above and beyond their service to the chamber every time,” according to Ecker.

He and Hannigan presented the award to Daniel Lofy, citing his dedication to the chamber, work ethic and variety of ways he volunteers.

Distinguished Service Lofy

2019 Distinguished Service Award — Daniel Lofy (left)

Lofy said, “I love my city and I love my chamber. I couldn’t do this without a lot of you, and my wife.”

The second award looked to the young guests in attendance from Siuslaw High School as Counselor Steve Moser presented the nominees for the Future First Citizen Award. These four seniors — Tiffany Hine, Brendon Jensen, Jared Northrop and Hannah Rannow — “are fantastic,” Moser said. “The selection committee found in our finalists similar strengths of character, an unparalleled work ethic, incredible intellectual abilities, a commitment to success and a passion for supporting others. … Ultimately, it is their distinct uniqueness that allows them to shine in their own light.”

He thanked Siuslaw’s teachers and staff members, the community and the students’ families for guiding the students, offering opportunities and supporting their growth into young adults.

When the time came to give the award, he named Hine as this year’s honoree of Future First Citizen.

Future First Citizen Finalists courtesy

2019 Future First Citizen Nominees — Winner Tiffany Hine (left)

“It is an honor to be on stage tonight, and I want to thank everyone who supported me in my journey to get here,” Hine said. “I just briefly want to say that this school’s education system has brought me to where I am today, and the community within Florence has also given me many opportunities. … I am proud to be a citizen of Florence. …

“I work tirelessly to achieve each goal I set out for myself, and I will continue to crush my goals going forward.”

As Hine left the stage, last year’s Florence First Citizen Dee Osborne stood to present this year’s nominees: Siuslaw Elementary School Principal Mike Harklerode, Dr. Brian Holmes D.M.D., Siuslaw High School volunteer Robert Orr and Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue firefighter Jerry Ward.

“This year’s nominees count for thousands of hours of community service and giving. Their stories are all inspirational,” Osborne said. “From their dedication to youth in our area to volunteering their time to fight fires and to provide medical care to the most vulnerable, the positive impact that they have made in Florence and beyond is a blessing and true showcase of their character and huge hearts. We honor each of them tonight with our thanks.”

She presented the 2019 Florence First Citizen Award to Holmes, who is currently on a mission to provide dental care to communities in the island nation of Grenada. It was accepted on his behalf by Dr. Justin Linton D.D.S., Holmes’ peer at Florence Dental Clinic.

First Citizen Holmes by Linton

2019 Florence First Citizen is Brian Holmes, accepted by his colleague Justin Linton

“Brian truly has been a very nice and inspiring mentor to be involved in this community,” Linton said. “He’s in Grenada right now, but he would have loved to have been here. Truly, this is an honor for him to be recognized and an honor to even be part of this community.”

The next section of the awards night recognized area businesses and organizations for their work in 2019. Matt Templeman, news anchor with KEZI in Eugene, presented the awards. He thanked each of the nominees as he described why they were nominated.

The first business award was the Non-Profit Achievement Award, which went to Siuslaw Watershed Council.

NonProf Achievement SWC

Executive Director Eli Tome accepts the Non-Profit Achievement Award for Siuslaw Watershed Council

Council Executive Director Eli Tome described his growing team and how they are working to restore the salmon and habitat of the Siuslaw River and its watershed.

“We’re really excited about this and about all of our work here,” Tome said. “We’re here every day to restore salmon habitat, to bring those numbers back up, to make a resilient environment in the face of a changing climate and to work with our community partners to educate locate kids.”

The next business award was the Curb Appeal Award.

“You all are in the middle of one of the most beautiful places imaginable, and that is why this is Oregon’s Coastal Playground. You’re why I want to come to visit,” Templeman said.

He named Darlings Marina & RV Resort, six miles south of Florence on Siltcoos Lake, as the recipient.

Curb Appeal Darlings

Lori & Rich Olson accept the Curb Appeal Award for Darlings Marina & RV Resort

Owners Rich and Lori Olson came to the stage, with Lori describing their five-year project to restore and rejuvenate the marina, which was founded in 1924.

“It’s been a labor of love ever since,” she said. “Every upgrade has been a direct result of customer feedback and the support of the community has been amazing. Thank you so much for noticing our transformation.”

Templeman then presented the Excellence in Customer Service Award.

“Not only do small businesses make up the backbone of this community, there are many who go above and beyond what the customers expect,” he said.

The 2019 award went to FTS Computer Repair and owner Jolene Medeiros.

Customer Service FTS Computer

Jolene Medeiros (left) accepts the Excellence in Customer Service Award FTS Computer Repair

“I came here after I left the military and fell in love with beautiful Florence,” she said. “The support from the community that I have received since I’ve been here has been phenomenal. The love and support that I get from every client I see is amazing. I am so humbled and thankful.”

As Medeiros left the stage, Templeman paused the event to thank active-duty military members, veterans and family members of military personnel.

The next award was for Innovation in Business, which was the first category to receive a tie. Templeman described the winners as those who took a chance to bring “something new, exciting and even bold to the community.”

The award went to Florence Regional Arts Alliance (FRAA) and Florence Hostel 101.

Innovation FRAA

Innovation in Business — FRAA

FRAA President Kristin Anderson accepted the award for the nonprofit arts organization, saying, “Our goal is to bring art to the community and art to you, as well as people who have never done art before. We’ve tried to create a place where artists can thrive, congregate and explore together.”

Innovation Hostel Marianne

Innovation in Business — Florence Hostel 101

Florence Hostel 101 owner Marianne Brisbane also accepted the award. She referenced her decades of work building into the Florence economy and her desire to bring something new to the area with its first hostel.

For the Community Caring Award, there were also two winners.

“We are extremely fortunate to have an abundance of caring hearts in the town of Florence,” Templeman said. “Their generosity with their time, resources and/or financial donations make extraordinary things happen here. … The Community Caring Award winners have used their talents, opened their hearts — and many times their wallets — to help the community through events, charitable organizations and causes, always answering the call to sponsor and/or donate.”

He named both The Archives and Three Rivers Casino Resort as this year’s winners.

Comm Care Archives Greene

The Archives owner Joshua Greene (center) accepted the Community Caring Award

“The beauty of giving is the feeling that you’ve given something. The gift is what you get back,” said Joshua Greene, owner of The Archives.

He described his 30-year presence in the Florence community and the choices he has made to be involved and help people achieve their goals.

“Along the way, I’ve sat down with many of you to listen and get sound advice on how to accomplish what we all want to accomplish,” Greene said. “That journey to making our dreams come true can be frustrating … in a way, that’s what fuels me to want to keep giving, since that joy is what I get back.”

Comm Care TRCR

Rich Colton (second from right) accepts Three River Casino Resort's Community Caring Award

Three Rivers Director of Marketing Rich Colton and casino staff also came forward to accept their award.

Colton thanked the hardworking staff and the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians for their dedication and direction. “This would not be possible without them,” he said.

The final award of the night was the Stu Johnston Business of the Year. Templeman compared it to the “Best Motion Picture” category of the Oscar’s.

“These businesses are a combination of all the attributes we have talked about and awarded tonight,” he said. “Caring, innovation and expertise all while taking the extra step to provide the best customer service experience and supporting the community. They are shining examples of why Florence is a very special place to conduct business, live and visit.”

After describing the nominees, he named Hyak as the 2019 Stu Johnston Business of the Year.

Stu Johnston Hyak

The team at Hyak accept the Siuslaw Awards' Stu Johnston Business of the Year Award

Owners Robbie Wright and Ecker came forward with staff and family to accept the award, with both men expressing their gratitude for being nominated and acknowledging the impact of Laurel Bay Gardens and Coldwell Banker Coast Real Estate as the other nominees.

“We’re humbled,” Ecker said. “We put our time and effort in to bring needed fiber optic internet to you guys, to Florence. We try to do our best in customer service. If you see Drew, Chris, Matt and those guys out and about, give them a hand and thank them for doing a good job. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible. Thank you.”

Wright added, “We wouldn’t be anywhere without our wonderful community, our staff and our families.”

As the meeting concluded, Hannigan thanked the attendees, the event sponsors and the committee who worked on creating the event. This included chamber event coordinator Mitzi Hathaway.

“We’re your chamber and we’re here to serve you,” Hannigan said. “I am your servant, your chamber is your servant, and if there’s anything we can do to serve you, please reach out and let us know.”

The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce and its volunteers run the Florence Visitor’s Center, 290 Highway 101. For more information, visit florencechamber.com, follow Florence Oregon Coast on social media or call 541-997-3128.