Chamber honors top three

Annual awards tap citizens for contributions to the community
by: West Linn Chamber, 
Recognized Friday night at the West Linn Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner and Silent Auction were, from left, historian Sandy Carter - West Linn Tidings’ Person of the Year award; Matt Grady of Gramor Development, West Linn Central Village project manager - Bridging Community and Business award; and business owner Molly Macom - West Linn Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year.

Nearly a full house was on hand to enjoy the West Linn Chamber of Commerce's annual auction and awards dinner Friday at the Tualatin Country Club.

Called 'The Main Event,' the affair felt like an Academy Awards night complete with red carpet and live entertainment - compliments of the Van De Veere Dancers.

But the main event, spotlighting the real winners of the night, was presenting awards to three people recognized for their commitment to the West Linn community.

Molly Macom was dubbed West Linn Chamber of Commerce 'Business Person of the Year;' Gramor Development, represented by Matt Grady, was tapped for the 'Bridging Business and Community' award; and Sandy Carter received the West Linn Tidings 'Person of the Year' award.

Molly Macom

Diane Bays, last year's recipient of the award, presented Macom with the award.

'When I joined the West Linn business community three years ago, tonight's honoree was one of the first people I met at a chamber meeting,' said Bays. 'I knew that her energy and enthusiasm was just what we needed as we worked to revitalize the Willamette district but, darn it, their business was on the other side of town.'

West Linn is a special place, Bays said, partly because the four business districts give residents a choice of where to spend their time and conduct their business.

'I'm sure many of you would agree that the longer we live and work here, the smaller the community grows. (Macom) reaches out to support people and events in all parts of town and is relentless in those efforts.'

Macom moved to West Linn at the age of 16 and has raised three children here. She is the owner and broker of Westlake Properties, which she started in the mid-'80s.

Bays said that Macom believes in living, working and playing in her own community.

'Running a business is more than a full-time job as many of us know and we marvel at the energy that keeps (Macom) serving in so many volunteer capacities,' said Bays.

Macom serves on the West Linn Chamber Board of Directors and on the board of the Old Time Fair, where she sponsors the pie eating contest. She also chaired the organizing committee for this year's chamber auction. Macom's West Lake Properties is also a sponsor of numerous events around town.

Gramor Development

Mark Buser, president of the chamber, presented the 'Bridging Community and Business' award, a new award this year.

He said that four years ago, the chamber set upon a new course based on the operating philosophy - 'Bridging Community and Business.'

'We have come together tonight to remind ourselves that as business owners, employees and citizens of West Linn, we share a common vision for our most valuable asset - the community,' he said. 'Because each one of us holds West Linn in heart, mind and pocketbook, we are the city's collective shareholders. Each one of us has a vested interest in creating value for our city.'

He said the chamber is dedicating the 'Bridging Business and Community' award to individuals and organizations that make significant local investments. Gramor Development has done this with the West Linn Central Village project.

Buser noted that Gramor has invested tens of millions of dollars in West Linn, and that the returns to our community are huge.

'Over 25 new businesses have been added as a result of this investment,' he said.

He also noted that more than 100 new jobs have been created and cited Market of Choice as an example.

Sandy Carter

Sandy Carter was named the West Linn Tidings 'Person of the Year,' and received the award from Tidings publisher, J. Brian Monihan.

'A community is special based on the people that live in that community,' Monihan said. 'It is these people who volunteer their time and energy, who give countless hours to their causes, who often give their blood, sweat and tears to make that community the special place that it is.'

Monihan said that West Linn is very fortunate to have many of these devoted and caring people.

'Tonight we recognize a person who has stepped up and made West Linn a priority in her life. Because she has, West Linn is better off today and will be better off in the future.'

Monihan said that some people call Carter a crusader and that her causes have revolved around the central theme of preserving West Linn's historical resources. Her efforts have focused on leading the community to save our oldest and most historic sites for the enjoyment and education of future generations.

As the founder and executive director of the Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation, Carter has been principally responsible for saving the Locks from closure. Her work on this foundation has led to federal and statewide partnerships with politicians and state agencies. These partnerships have led to over $400,000 in operating funds for the locks as well as momentum for a long-term funding solution.

As the pulse of the Lockfest, which in 2004 was named Best Event of the Year by the Willamette Valley Development Officers, Carter has helped create an annual community event that draws attention to the locks and their historical and future value.

Her most recent effort over the past year and a half has been serving as producer, interviewer and off-line editor for the film 'Grindstones, Boomsticks, Tattletales and Nips: The stories and the people of Crown Zellerbach International.' The film features 17 former employees who tell their stories about working at the mill - West Linn's only industrial business and one of the city's major employers.

In an opinion published in the Tidings, Carter said ' Let's not lose any more old treasures until we've at least seriously considered the role they could play - the important stories they could tell our visitors and descendants. Without our historical moorings we will drift into a future with no reference points about the incredible birth of Oregon as a state and of the character of West Linn as a city.'

Monihan congratulated Carter for her commitment.

'It only takes one person who is truly committed to a cause to inspire others to change the world,' he said. 'West Linn is fortunate to have Sandy Carter.'