Elvis worked the crowd as poodle-skirted girls giggled and throngs of black leather jacketed guys roamed around, apparently looking for a rumble.
It was the annual Madras/Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce awards banquet, Oct. 21, at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, which this year had a "nifty fifties" theme.
The event recognized individuals and businesses who had gone above and beyond in their efforts in 2006, and gave awards for business development, business beautification, and partnership in community improvement.
Following the dinner and awards, the crowd settled back with a dessert of root beer floats to enjoy comedian Robert Alston from Georgia.
Chamber Director Holli Van Wert, dressed in a strapless red gown and white stole, was the mistress of ceremonies, assisted by Chamber President Joe Krenowicz, decked out in a white sport coat.
Mountain View Hospital District was named the Business of the Year. In presenting the award, Rick Allen noted there were full-page ads in the paper against the hospital being built, when it was first proposed in the 1950s.
Today, the hospital district is a $10 to $12 million a year business, employing over 200 people.
"We've set out to make this the very best hospital in the state," said Mountain View Chief Executive Officer Jay Henry as he accepted the award along with hospital board members.
Warm Springs resident Jeff Sanders was named the Community Champion for 2006. Ken Smith, who presented the award, noted Sanders has worked for the Confederated Tribes for 46 years in many public safety and managerial positions, along with serving on local, state and national school board associations. Chief Delvis Heath also helped present the award.
Bill Apgar was named the Senior Citizen of the Year for his volunteer work with the American Red Cross, fire department and AARP organization.
Tom Hansen won the Volunteer of the Year award for his extensive work on chamber and other local events.
Metolius Mayor Sandy Toms, who also works for the city of Madras, was named the Public Servant of the Year for her enthusiasm, work as mayor and coaching activities.
Awards for business development were presented to:
Mike's Fence Center/Mobile Concrete, Mi Casa, Chachka Group, Quality Automotive Service, Mid City Food Mart/Texaco, Brad's Bait and Tackle, Los Amigo's Clothing and Gift, Pelicans Shoes, Sears and Apparel Express, New York Sub Shop, Geno's New York Pizza, HSI Mortgage, ReMax Hometown Realty, Century 21, Keith Brown Building Materials, Soil Restoration Inc., Madras Design and Road Runner Construction, South Y Complex, Taqueria Los Compadres, and Laura's Boutique -- Shoes, Clothing and Accessories.
Business beautification awards went out to:
Century 21 -- The Delita Cordes Team, Eagle Tech Systems, Madras Sanitary Service, New Energy Fitness, The Madras Pioneer, Seaswirl Boats, Thomas Sales and Service, Black Bear Diner, Great Earth Natural Foods, Central Oregon Seeds Inc., and Parr Lumber.
Those winning recognition for partnership in community improvement were:
The Oregon Child Development Coalition, Madras Redevelopment Commission, Madras Airport, and Madras High School Principal Gary Carlton.
A special recognition gift was presented to past chamber director Parrish Van Wert (dressed as Elvis), who left to take as job as community development coordinator with the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution being built outside of Madras.
Tom Hansen, who presented the gift, remarked jokingly, "I told Parrish I knew he was going to end up in that place (prison) one way or another."
Hansen said Van Wert had "lived and breathed" for the success of this area and noted there are "not many people who could ride the wave that Parrish did," referring to turbulent times over the past few years.
In accepting the gift of a soaring eagle figurine, Van Wert said when he first started as chamber director he'd tell people he was from Jefferson County and many didn't even know where it was.
"But I knew we were a diamond in the rough," Van Wert stated.