By SCOTT GRAVES
The Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce named its volunteer of the year and business of the year during its annual banquet Saturday.
The chamber also recognized its accomplishments for the past year and the outgoing and incoming board members.
More than 100 members, including visitor information center volunteers, and city and county officials, attended the dinner at Lucky 7 Casino in Smith River,
Marilyn Deards, a regular greeter at the chamber's monthly mixers, was honored as volunteer of the year.
"Over the past several years Marilyn has chaired the Ambassador Annual Award dinner committee and organized and chaired the Member Visitation committee, along with ongoing significant participation in all other ambassador activities," said Chamber President Peter Spratt, co-owner of Best Western Brookings Inn.
"If she is involved in anything, you can count on her getting it done and giving it her all," Spratt said. "She always demonstrates a pleasant, cooperative and positive attitude. She is hardworking, well organized and dependable."
The chamber selected The Book Dock, owned by Gail Scriven and managed by Jo Mochulski, as business of the year.
The Book Dock has been in business since September 1993 and was the first retail shop to open at the Port of Brookings Harbor.
"In the past nine years, the business has grown along with the port and has made significant contributions to the community and the promotion of the Brookings-Harbor area," Spratt said.
The Book Dock, he said, has sponsored book discussions, fireside chats, meet the author sessions and the South Coast Discovery Program series (See story, Page 5B).
Mayor Bob Hagbom was surprised to receive a plaque recognizing his "Exemplary stewardship of the city of Brookings."
"This has completely caught me off guard. Thank you so much," Hagbom told the audience. "I promise I will continue to work hard."
Chamber Executive Director Les Cohen also recognized Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative for its continued support of the chamber and the community.
"This is the same business that helps us out year after year," Cohen said. "The co-op has been a great partner and sponsor."
Loren Porsch, general manager of the co-op and a past president of the chamber, accepted the plaque, but said he was doing so for all the linemen who keep the power on."
"The linemen work tirelessly to make sure the lights stay on," Porsch said. "This plaque is for them, I'm just here to collect it."
Spratt kicked off the awards program by giving a state-of-the-chamber address.
"The state of the chamber is strong," he said. "We have a long list of accomplishments this year. We've been busy."
Cohen, he said, attended two conventions, one in Portland, the other in Bend, to promote the Southern Oregon Coast and Brookings-Harbor.
The chamber also sponsored the Christmas Bazaar and the Driftwood Festival, and supported the holiday lights at Azalea Park and the port's Kite Festival.
The chamber continues to work with the Port of Brookings Harbor and was successful in getting signage on Interstate 5 directing travelers in Grants Pass to the coast, Spratt said.
"I'm proud of our relationship with the port," he said.
The chamber, he said, also spearheaded the current push to brand the South Coast as "America's Wild Rivers Coast."
"The buy-in by the community, businesses and cities has been tremendous," Spratt said.
This year and next, the chamber will continue the "America's Wild Rivers Coast" promotions, revamp its Web site, send out informational CD-ROMs to potential visitors, and continue supporting various festivals, he said.
Spratt then bid farewell to three departing chamber board members: Richard Gyuro, Jo Mochulski and Sheila Hagbom.
He also recognized the hard work of the chamber ambassadors who serve as the organization's "eyes and ears" greeting and meeting people in the community and organizing ribbon cutting events.
Spratt concluded his speech by saying the chamber would not allow itself to become distracted by its detractors.
"We will not engage in public arguments with those who sling mud and speak drivel; that will only give credibility to someone who doesn't have any," he said.
Spratt added, "If you want to know what's going on, what the truth is, just call one of the board members and ask. We'll tell you."
Spratt then named three members who deserved recognition: Lisa Orozco, Carol Smith and Les Cohen.
About Cohen, Spratt said, "I don't know of any chamber who has as good an executive director as we do. We couldn't get any of this done without him."
Cohen took the mike next, recapping the number of visitor request for information in person, phone, mail or through its Web site.
"We're averaging 13,000 hit per month on our Web site," he said. "Most are hits to our business links."
He added the number of visitors to the chamber's visitor center at the Port of Brookings Harbor is as high as ever.
Cohen took a moment to recognize the 19 volunteers at the visitor center. The volunteers included: Marilyn Argo, Shirley Baldwin, Lea Brown, Ruth Cavaliere, Barbara Cleland, Angel Forster, Hope Hansen, Kate Harrison, June Harvey, Jane Heaney, Frances Johns, Elaine Kern, Linda Martin, Doris McIntire, Heather Misner, Lois Natalizio, Fred Pate, Rhea Schreiner and Barbara Wilson.
Cohen also handed out "distinguished member" awards to businesses that have been continual members of the chamber for 15 years or more, including That Special Touch florist, Brookings-Harbor Health Care Systems, dentist James Nelson, Coastal Physical Therapy, Treasure Trove, Portside RV and Hagen's Drycleaning.