By CHRISTINA WOOD
Of the Baker City Herald
The 75th annual Baker County Chamber of Commerce banquet and award ceremony was well attending Saturday evening. A record 348 people attended the event which was held at the Baker Elks Lodge.
The room was decorated primarily in red, white and blue in keeping with the patriotic theme for the event.
Were so pleased that community unity was so very visible this night, said Cheri Smith, interim executive director of Baker County Unlimited, as she noted that representatives attended from business, industry, services, local government and the tourist industry.
A number of visitors from outside Baker County were present including State Senator Ted Ferrioli, and gubernatorial candidates Kevin Mannix and Ted Kulongoski.
The 2002 Man of the Year was Randy Johnson, head of S andamp; R Industries. He was cited for his volunteer efforts and for his continuing effort to bring living wage jobs to Baker County.
Chary Weber Mires was the Woman of the Year. In addition to her volunteerism, she was the driving force behind the renovation and restoration of the Leo Adler House Museum. The building, which was left to the Regional Museum at the time of Adlers death in 1993, was in poor condition. A great deal of work was necessary before the museum could be open to public tours.
Legacy Man of the Year was Daryl Whiteley who was cited for his promotion of Baker County and the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center around the country.
Betty Kuhl, business woman and creator of Bettys Books on Main Street was given the Legacy Woman of the Year award. Kuhl has volunteered her time for many years to various youth groups including the Girl Scouts, 4-H, the American Red Cross, and to the assistance of the visually impaired.
Thatchers Ace Hardware was named Business of the Year. Owner Scott Thatcher and his wife Diana were on hand to receive the award. Thatcher took over the business a few years ago and has worked hard to make it a thriving store in the downtown area.
Mention was made of his efforts to compliment the inventory of his business with the newly opened Bi-Mart. The cooperation between the businesses has paid off with Bi-mart referring customers to Thatchers for speciality items. The employees of the store were cited for their friendly service and knowledgeable interest in their customers needs.
Thomas Angus Ranch was awarded the Excellence in Agriculture Award for its continuing efforts to promote the beef industry in Baker County as well as its efforts to improve the Angus breed of beef cattle.
The yearly cattle sale at the Thomas Ranch sends Baker County bred animals to cattle raising operations throughout the nation and the Thomas named stands for quality in the beef industry.
Chamber board member J. Ackerman, owner of Tasty Bake Inc., was named the Board Member of the Year.
Tyler Brown, of Barley Browns Brew Pub was recognized for his dedicated service to the community as the 2001 President of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce. Nancy Peyron was also honored for her work as facilitator of the Baker County Unlimited Consolidation Task Force that worked to combine the Chamber with the Baker County Visitor and Convention Bureau.