Chamber celebrates business community
Clockwise from top: Lake Stevens Chamber president and police chief Randy Celori.
Kathy and Mayor Vern Little. Lake Stevens Hall of Fame 2009 inductee and lifetime resident Jim MItchell.
Over 200 guests joined the Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Nov. 13 at Naval Station Everett for their annual auction and gala.
This year’s event was a celebration of those who have made an impact on the city throughout its history.
The Great Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce created a Hall of Fame to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves through achievement, extraordinary contributions and distinguished service to the community.
Chamber President and Lake Stevens Police Chief Randy Celori, inducted five community members into the Hall of Fame at this inaugural event.
Those recognized were Roy Hobday, Gayle and Anne Whitsell, Jack Sahlbom, Karen Alessi and Jim Mitchell.
Hobday and the Whitsells have each passed away but their contributions to the Lake Stevens community are unmeasurable.
“Roy enjoyed helping people behind the scenes,” Celori explained. “He would often help people get into their first home by carrying the contract for them.”
“Gayle and Anne Whitsell have both passed away but have left us the memories that will forever inspire us to give more of ourselves to our community.”
Jack Sahlbom is best known for his dedication to establishing the War Memorial in downtown Lake Stevens. He has also been awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service in both World War II and the Korean conflict.
Karen Alessi, an avid water skier, was instrumental in getting Lake Stevens their own library. She was also active in bringing the Dannon Man and Ironman to Lake Stevens.
Lifetime resident Jim Mitchell served in the Navy during World War II, served as State Representative for District 39 and wrote the book, Lake Stevens – My Town.
Others recognized that evening were the Chamber’s Business of the Year and Chamber Member of the Year.
The winners are chosen for their involvement in the community, ability to provide quality customer service and to be a role model for other businesses.
Nominations for Business of the Year include Sahara Pizza, Toyer Consulting & Advocacy and Sunnyside Preschool and Kindergarten. This year’s winner was Sahara Pizza, owned by Tom and Chris Wartinger.
Sahara Pizza is well known for supporting local sports teams, the Pizza Eating Contest at Aquafest and hiring local students to work in their store.
“What you don’t always see is their underlying support for many other events and organizations such as churches, schools, the food bank and service organizations,” Celori said. “Even through these tough economic times, Sahara Pizza continues to provide a quality product at a reasonable price with great service.”
This year’s Chamber Member of the Year was the Chamber’s own Office Manager, Donna Foster.
“Donna is a superior manager with virtually unlimited potential,” Celori said. “She continually supports the Chamber of Commerce and the community of Lake Stevens and is highly respected by all.”
Foster was surprised by the award.
“I would like to thank my family for their support. They always stand behind me in support, or are right there beside me helping out with any community project I take on,” Foster said.
Other nominees included Jim Lee, owner of Hometown Values Coupon Magazine, Jan Larsen, owner Larsen Financial Services and Leslie Elsemore, board member for Lake Stevens Education Foundation.
Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little also awarded Navy Captain and Naval Station Everett’s Commanding Officer, Thomas Mascolo with a key to the city.
“The City of Lake Stevens salutes Captain Mascolo who was instrumental in selecting the City of Lake Stevens to be the home of hundreds of our servicemen and women and their family members,” Little said. “Your leadership has left a positive and lasting mark on our city.”
Money raised at the auction goes to support scholarships for students in the community.
“I would like to thank everyone who came to the Chamber gala. I’m sure many had fun, and will make next year’s event more entertaining,” Celori said. “I think three main accomplishments are the new website, the Lake Stevens video(which can be viewed on the Chamber’s website) and work on the future Chamber office and visitor’s center.”
The Greater Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce has a profound effect on the community as a whole and will continue to support businesses and government within Lake Stevens.
“The Chamber has a significant effect on our community. Not only does it increase the networking among the members, the Chamber educates our members and citizens on business related issues that impact on all of us,” Celori said. “I believe if we did not have a strong Chamber and city government, like we do, we would not have weathered this downturn in the economy this past couple of years as well as we did and continue to do. Like I mentioned in my speech, when lots sat empty the Navy moved in. When stores closed, new ones opened. Why is that? Because of the business climate that both the Chamber and City provides.”