Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hailey Chamber toasts award winners

Express Staff Writer

Members of the Hailey business community, local government and federal agencies gathered Thursday to honor civic leaders and businesses. The Hailey Chamber of Commerce's annual awards night at The Mint Nightclub in downtown Hailey was completely sold out.

To kick things off, outgoing President Jim Spinelli passed on the gavel to incoming President Al Stevenson, of the Stevenson Management Group, who recently retired as the Hailey Medical Clinic administrator.

The event was also an evening to say good-bye to retiring Executive Director Tom Smith, who has accepted the position of Development Director at The Community Library in Ketchum. At the beginning of the night's festivities local diva "Miss Loretta" sang a farewell song to Smith, her singing bringing the applauding crowd to their feet.

"It's an exciting time in Hailey," Spinelli said. "Tom's laid great ground work."

The chamber's departing emcee and promoter helped to host the dinner as Stevenson doled out the annual awards.

Honored as the Citizen of the Year, former Blaine County Commissioner Mary Ann Mix was beaming as she received the honor. Stevenson recited Mix's long list of service as a 30-year member of the community, beginning with her work with the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission and her appointment to the 5th Judicial Magistrate Commission by Gov. Cecil Andrus in 1985. Mix then went on to win her first term as a county commissioner in 1997 and went on to chair the commission.

Mix currently serves as chair of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority. She also has served Hailey's Northern Rockies Folk Festival Board, Hailey Chamber of Commerce Board, and Idaho Association of Counties.

The designation as Business of the Year went to North & Company. The award takes into consideration involvement in the community, customer service, product quality and excellence of the workplace.

Established in 1986 as the Merc. Store, the current owner, Jennifer Hazard Davis accepted the award. The chamber recognized the store as "the Nordstroms of the Wood River Valley."

"This is amazing. This is a great honor," Hazard Davis said, recognizing all the help she received from business and community leaders who helped her make the business thrive since the death of partner Roger Fleenor.

The Volunteer of the Year award went to a couple, Rob and Kris Cronin. Recognized for their exhaustive energy and commitment to supporting everything from high school events to Camp Rainbow Gold, while accepting the award the Cronin's volunteered to host the awards at next year as the new owners of Viva Taqueria.

Rocky Mountain Hardware and the Nickum family were recognized as the Employer of the Year. The award goes annually to a business or organization with five or more employees, an employer who puts employees as the priority, a person who emphasizes quality over quantity, and a person who provides excellent benefits to employees.

The Nickum family started the handcrafted solid bronze architectural hardware manufacturing business in 1994, starting with 10 employees and a local distribution. The company has now expanded to 122 employees with an international distribution.

"Receiving this award is so humbling because there are so many amazing businesses in Hailey," Patsy Nickum said.

A new chamber award for Honorary Life Member was given to Joan Davies, for a person who has "stood the test of time." Davies, who recently retired after 19 years with the College of Southern Idaho, is a long time resident of the valley, who with her husband John raised three sons in the Wood River Valley. At CSI Davies worked as a secretary, accountant and educator, including English as a second language and adult literacy in her retinue of tasks.

An award for the Service Individual of the Year went to Gina Dussell of Mountain West Bank.

"She always has a smile and she can turn an upset customer into a happy one before they leave," Stevenson said.

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