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Big turnout boosts Chamber fundraiser


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Ray Giansante, interim director of the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce, watches the bidding during the business group's annual dinner and auction, held at Pacific University Saturday evening. It was hard to find an empty chair Saturday night as the business community turned out in full-force to support the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce at its 26th Annual Spring Dinner and Auction, its biggest fundraiser of the year.

Tom Raabe, president of the board of directors, called the night a success.

"It was a very good evening — we came close to selling out the seats," said Raabe, noting the event featured a record number of auction items. "The auction committee did a terrific job."

He also felt good about the camaraderie at the event. "It was great to see the community pulling together," Raabe said. "That's what Forest Grove is all about."

And, while the group doesn’t have an official tally, interim director Ray Giansante said it appears the chamber took in at least $XXXXX at the event, hosted by Pacific University and catered by Aramark/Pacific Catering.

This year’s event got a boost from a couple large construction projects on the north side of town. Hayden Homes, which is developing the Oak Hills Settlement just west of Forest Grove High School, stepped up as a Special Sponsor of the event. And Rick and Karyn Rainone, of Cornerstone Management Group, were eager bidders during the live auction, coming away with a couple big-ticket items, including a week-long getaway to Sun River, that fetched $1,500.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Karyn Rainone, of Cornerstone Management Group, chats with with Jill and Barry Wilson after the conclusion of the live auction Saturday evening.

“We’re just happy to support this great community,” said Rick Rainone, whose company is managing the expansion of the high school. Employees from the primary contractor, Howard S. Wright Construction, also attended the fundraiser.

Giansante said he was overwhelmed by the support of those who donated items, bought tickets to the event and made generous bids throughout the evening, urged on by former Forest Grove resident John Markus, the auctioneer. Those in attendance pledged $5,XXX to upgrade the chamber’s aging computer system.

Other sponsors included: Ace Hardware, All Crop, Inc., Bank of the West, Columbia Community Bank, Henningsen Cold Storage, Pacific University, Plum Hill Vineyards, Summa Real Estate, Mike Schofield, Tuality Health Care, West Coast Bank and Viasystems.