Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce doles out accolades at annual awards banquet.

HOLLY M. GILL - Tom Hansen, the former owner of Figaro's in Madras, hugs longtime employee Susan Shockey afte he is honored with the Business of the Year award at the annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.A longtime active member of the business community, Tom Hansen, who recently sold the Madras Figaro's, was surprised and emotional last Thursday, when he realized that he was receiving the honor of "Business of the Year."

"I want to be remembered that I gave back," he said, as he accepted the surprise award from longtime employee Susan Shockey, at the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce 2017 Annual Community Awards Banquet Sept. 21.

Hansen was among half a dozen volunteers, public servants and community champions who were recognized at the banquet, held at the Erickson Aircraft Collection.

Before introducing Hansen, Shockey said she was working in the Redmond Figaro's when she met Hansen 19 years ago. "Back then, Madras did not have the food choices it has today," she said. "He opened it and everyone loved it."

Shockey was amazed at how quickly Hansen became involved in community events through the business, which donates to local schools through the HELP, the Charity (Helping Education with Love and Pizza) grants.

HOLLY M. GILL - MAC Executive Director Joe McHaney hugs MACRD board co-chair Jinnell Lewis, after she presents him with the Outstanding Director award.
Hansen has also run the Car Show of the Cascades (during the Airshow of the Cascades), and supports the MAC Dash and Hands around the Courthouse, among other events and activities.

Director of the Year

Jinnell Lewis, vice chairman of the Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District, discussed the many improvements made in the district since Joe McHaney became the executive director in March 2014. McHaney was awarded Outstanding Director of the Year.

Under McHaney's leadership, she said, the district has retired loans, stopped taking in bridge grants, established a maintenance and building fund that previously didn't exist, and cut about $30,000 in utility costs through a new HVAC system and solar panels on the roof.

During the days just prior to the solar eclipse, the MAC took in $38,000 over one weekend, compared to $1,749 the same weekend last year.

HOLLY M. GILL - Ron Cummings, left, accepts the award for Senior Citizen of the Year from Floyd Leach.
"Over 5,000 people came through the door — the largest number of any community event since the pool opened in 2008," said Lewis, who credited McHaney with keeping things running smoothly, and nearly quadrupling the number of people participating in district programs.

McHaney accepted the award, noting that he was "very grateful and proud of what we have accomplished."

Senior Citizen of the Year

Floyd Leach, former commander of Madras VFW, introduced Ron Cummings, the Senior Citizen of the Year.

Leach said that Cummings, who helped get the American Legion post back in the community, also makes trips to the prison to pick up meals for delivery to senior citizens, and even washes dishes when needed.

HOLLY M. GILL - Austin Cooper, left, presents Bill Wienert with the Volunteer of the Year award for his community work."The board members refer to him as the 'biker guy,'" said Leach.

Volunteer of the Year

Austin Cooper, a Madras volunteer, discussed Volunteer of the Year Bill Wienert's work to bring food to needy families in the county. Back in 2014, Wienert first located a distribution center in Corbett that was able to provide him with free food, then purchased a flatbed truck and secured a grant to purchase two freezers for the Community Food Network.

"The network currently supplies 10-plus organizations, including local churches, the Jefferson County Food Bank, LINC, School District 509-J, the VA and Warm Springs lodge," said Cooper.

"Bill is a man of strong faith, and strives to do God's work," said Cooper.

Community Champions

HOLLY M. GILL - Charitie Gamble accepts the award for Gary and Beckie Buss, who earned the Community Champions award.
Gary and Beckie Buss, of Culver, were recognized by the chamber as the Community Champions of the Year. The Busses were not present for the banquet.

Speaking about the Busses, presenter Charitie Gamble, of Madras, commented, "To say they have the heart of servanthood is an understatement to say the least. For 50 years, they have been serving communities together and being champions all over the state of Oregon."

The Busses established one of the community's signature events — Our Community in the Park — which just celebrated its 10th year. They have also been active volunteers serving on the boards of nonprofits, assisting with fundraisers and training activities.

HOLLY M. GILL - Lysa Vattimo, pictured while preparing for the air show, was not present for the awards."I am so honored and blessed to present this award to Gary and Beckie Buss for their continued dedication, sacrifice and love for the people of Jefferson County," said Gamble.

Public Servant of the Year

Madras City Administrator Gus Burril recognized Lysa Vattimo, who was not present, as the recipient of the Public Servant of the Year award for her service as the city's plan facilitator for the city's solar eclipse events.

"This award recognizes all her planning efforts over the last 18 months to help the city of Madras and community members prepare for hosting such a large influx of visitors to watch this special event," said Burril.

"Her coordination with numerous agencies, including our neighboring cities, counties, emergency responders, health care providers, state and federal agencies, the governor's office, event holders, special interested parties, school district, and Lowell Observatory helped our preparations to be a success as a community," he said.

Lifetime Community Ambassador

HOLLY M. GILL - Joe Krenowicz awards longtime assistant Helen Houts with a Lifetime Community Ambassador award.
Joe Krenowicz, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, presented a special award to Helen Houts, who has served as the chamber's executive assistant for the past 11 years.

Recognizing her with a Lifetime Community Ambassador award, Krenowicz said, "We're all ambassadors for our community, but Helen has been an ambassador for everybody."

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