Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

After a comedy routine by Whit Deschner that kept the crowd in

stitches, Jimmy Chan's restaurant was named Business of the Year and

Jeff Nelson was named Volunteer of the Year Thursday night at the

annual Historic Baker City Inc. awards.

"Whit Deschner was hysterical. He kept us all laughing. He warmed

the crowed up. He was a highlight of the evening," said Ann Mehaffy,

HBC executive director.

Other HBC awards included the Community Partnerships Award presented

to the Baker Economic Resource Alliance; the Physical Improvements

Award went to Larry and Rosemary Abell for their work on The Pythian

Castle; the Downtown Success Story Award went to Dick and Marge Haynes

of the Short Term Gallery; and the Stepping Up to the Plate Award went

to Terry and Dan McQuisten, owners of the Eltrym Theatre.

andbull; In presenting the Business of the Year Award to Jimmy Chan's, Gail Duman, HBC board member, said the award recognizes an outstanding business in meeting the needs of the community, in being resourceful and having a positive economic impact in our community.

"Sometimes with all the excitement of a new business coming into the historic district, we forget to look as those who have been here all along. In the restaurant industry, there is one establishment that keeps on going - Jimmy Chan's," Duman said.

Mehaffy said Jimmy Chan's was opened in 1987 by Jimmy and Stella Chan, and has been a Baker staple for 23 years.

With the death of Jimmy Chan this past year, she said, Kevin Chan, Jimmy's son, continues management and operations of the restaurant. For eight years, Kevin has been dedicated to his family, their restaurant, and Baker City.

"Historic Baker City appreciates the tireless effort of the Chan family for all of these years. Few families have dedicated more hours than the Chans over the last two decades," Duman said.

andbull; Duman described Nelson, winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award, as someone well-known in service organization circles and around town as the can-do guy with a heart of gold.

"He's a hard-working downtown business owner, meeting the needs of the community by being open seven days a week and offering reasonably priced clothing and shoes for the whole family," Duman said.

As an HBC board member and board president, Nelson is always available to help other downtown businesses prosper and grow, Duman said.

As president of the Baker City Chapter of Lions Club, Nelson also works on the park/pathway shelters, the Lions breakfast, the Christmas parade burn barrels, the Diabetes Camp and everything else involving a Lion, Mehaffy said.

andbull; The Community Partnership Award presented to Baker Economic Resource Alliance, recognizes important partnerships with HBC, including the brainstorming sessions that spawned a Shop Local Campaign, the annual Business Resource Fair this past weekend, business workshops and other collaborative events.

The Baker Economic Resource Alliance is a partnership of Baker County Chamber of Commerce (Debi Bainter), Baker County Marketing (Andrew Bryan), Baker Economic Development (Gene Stackle) and HBC.

andbull; The Physical Improvements Award presented to Larry and Rosemary Abell goes to a property or business owner who makes a significant improvement to the design, function, economic vitality, or appearance of a downtown building or space.

Duman described the Abells as "the king and queen of the castle," for their renovations to the 1907 tuff stone building that was headquarters for the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal order "dedicated to universal peace" and drawing inspiration from the ideals of knighthood.

Later, the Pythian Castle housed philanthropist Leo Adler's offices for his magazine distribution business until his death in 1993. In recent years, though, it had been just another under-utilized and under-appreciated old building downtown, slipping farther away from its days of glory.

But last year the Abells restored the ground floor, returning it to the original retail glass-front profile.

"The first occupant, stylish Earth and Vine, established the Pythian Castle as THE place to be, but Rosemary and Larry made it happen, working with Mary Stevenson to create a quality wine bar with the perfect ambience," Duman said.

Oregon Power Solutions recently moved into second floor offices.

andbull; The Downtown Success Story Award presented to Dick and Marge Haynes of the Short Term Gallery recognizes a property or business owner who takes on the challenge of downtown revitalization by improving, changing, adding product lines or by implementing creative strategies to re-purpose their business or property.

"Tom Novak yearned for a co-operative art gallery downtown," and Duman said Dick and Marge Haynes came to the rescue, offering their newly vacated building as a temporary gallery space during the June 2009 Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally (thus the name, Short Term Gallery).

But Short Term has grown into a long term beautiful art gallery, thanks to the hard work of the co-operative artists, Bob Foree, and the generosity and support of the Hayneses.

andbull; The Stepping Up to the Plate Award presented to Terry and Dan McQuisten of the the Eltrym Theatre, is given to individuals or groups who made an important difference to the downtown.

"They have opened up their hearts and their doors to Baker City. What could be a better fit for downtown than a movie theater and an arts movement? Thanks to the generosity and community spirit of Eltrym Theatre owners Terry and Dan McQuisten, the T.A.N. Thursday Art Night films, art panels, and live storytelling have become a reality," Duman said.

With the approaching one-year anniversary of the collaboration between the Baker Art Guild, Short Term Gallery and the Eltrym, Mehaffy said the great benefits of this partnership to the community and downtown are clear.

She said the McQuistens donate 100 percent of the Thursday Art Night profits to a different non-profit every month.