By Leah Weissman
Pilot staff writer
In a crowded room of more than 100 Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce members and officials Friday, the coveted Business of the Year and Volunteer of the Year awards were handed out during a kick-off mixer to the Azalea Festival.
"It's a chance to recognize those who make a difference," Les Cohen, president of the chamber, said. "Making Brookings-Harbor a better place to live is what the chamber is all about, and we want to recognize those who do that."
At the beginning of April, the chamber sent out about 500 applications to its members, asking for nominations of local businesses and individuals who have given back to the community.
"The Volunteer of the Year awards an individual who, during the past year, has given back to the community their time, energy and resources that go above and beyond the call of duty," Cohen said.
The room at Salmon Run golf course was silent as Daryn Farmer, last year's volunteer of the year, announced chamber of commerce Chairman Kevin Moerke as the 2008 volunteer of the year.
Moerke thanked those who nominated him, and accepted a Volunteer of the Year plaque from Cohen.
Cohen read out loud one of the nominations for Moerke, "I have worked with many chambers of commerce over the years, and have never had the privilege of working with a more dedicated civic servant than Kevin. Chairman of the Board Kevin truly believes in the chamber and its mission."
The Business of the Year award was then announced by KURY Radio Assistant Manager Debbie Phillips Â– last year's winner.
"The chamber recognizes a business that is not only successful, but has been actively involved in the community over the past year," Cohen said. "It's not just about their success or uniqueness of the place, but what they give back to the community."
With a quick drumroll by the audience, Phillips announced Chetco Federal Credit Union (CFCU) as the 2008 Business of the Year.
"We are so honored and privileged to serve our community, and look forward to serving the community for many more years to come," Joan Karrle, CFCU vice president of lending, said to the audience as she accepted a plaque on behalf of CFCU.
Cohen said one of the nominations for CFCU read, "Life without CFCU in our community would mean fewer scholarships to worthy high school graduates; fewer classes on financial literacy to grade, middle and high school students; identity theft and Internet classes, and fewer monies supporting the SMART reading program and sports and other community activities."
According to Cohen, out of the last years of holding this awards' ceremony, this year received the most nominations.
Those considered for Business of the Year included Cal-Ore Life Flight and Wild River Pizza, with nominations for Seaside Peddler and Re/Max Coast and County.
Those considered for Volunteer of the Year included Dan Brattain, president of Cal-Ore Life Flight and Carlo Pelaccio, chair of the Brookings-Harbor Lions Club Kans 4 Kids program.
Other people attending the ceremony included the Azalea Princess court, chamber board and officers, this year's Azalea Festival parade Grand Marshal Kent Owens, and other important members of the community.
The Business of the Year and Volunteer of the Year awards have been hosted by the chamber of commerce for more than 10 years, though this is the first time the ceremony was held as a kick-off to the Azalea Festival.
"In the past, we've held the awards' banquet in June, but this year we wanted to do something different," Cohen said.