The heat was on, 80 nominations for eight coveted awards.  The Fernie Mountain Lodge Best Western ballroom was the attractive setting for this year’s awards gala honoring Fernie citizens and business.  Balloons and gorgeous centrepieces compliments of Bunches and colourful candy bags compliments of candy stores in town graced tables. Young Hannah Bradish provided lovely classical music.

This year some business received multiple nominations, Freyja with young entrepreneur and entrepreneur, last year’s big winner Big Bang Bagels with entrepreneur, young entrepreneur and business of the year. Grow with new business, chamber business excellence and entrepreneur, Loaf Bakery with new business, Fernie Business of the year, and chamber business excellence. The perennial favorite Overwaitea with chamber business excellence and Fernie Business of the year, the rest of the nominees included Side Street Sweet Shoppe for new business of the year, Dano’s Septic Service for young entrepreneur, CIBC, Barkside Pets and Cameron Enterprise for Outstanding customer service.  Youth Achievement award had two very deserving young women in this category Chalice Walker and Emily Mann.  Citizen of the Year included George Smith, Laura Nelson and Jocelyn Sombrowski.

Sponsors Fernie Chamber, GPI Chartered Accountants, Community Features and City of Fernie representatives spoke highly of all the nominees, comments like  “offers great products, good staff, friendly, polite, like talking to a friend, greets customers with a smile, great personality, excellence in business standards, donate to the community, volunteer”.  It seems that offering a great product, greeting customers with a friendly smile and donating time and goods to the community is the mantra of today’s winning businesses.

On handing out the youth achievement and citizen of the year award Mayor Cindy Corrigan said that new businesses makes for a great, vibrant community.  Of Emily and Chalice she said the contribution of these two young women to the community makes them “excellent role models for all youth”.  I agree both girls donate much time to volunteering, participate in school activities and believe that in helping others it strengthens our community.

Jocelyn Sombrowski was nominated for her dedication to the Fernie Academy kids and for volunteering with many events held in the community.  I worked with Jocelyn on the committee that organized the Emily Brydon day; she helped plan the event and was the first one to arrive at the community center to decorate and the last one to leave helping me to take down everything. With a full time job she still finds time to contribute to the community.

George Smith has had a long standing commitment to youth and seniors in our community.  George does everything quietly and without fanfare.  He officiates at soccer, volleyball and other sports.  He gave up his home so a visiting girls’ team could have a place to stay when they were here for the provincial championship.  He runs errands and shovels snow for seniors. George is one of those Fernie born and raised individuals who love their town and do a lot behind the scenes without expecting any thanks for what they do.

Laura Nelson has been volunteering all of her life but this past year what she was able to accomplish with the museum building was amazing.  She was the driving force behind the renovation. On accepting the award she thanked a “dedicated board of directors” that included Dr. Rod Geddes, Julie Langille, Dave O’Haire, Barry Dootoff, Terri Robbins, Krista Turcasso, Sandra Summerfield, Steve Kuijt, also curator Mike Pennock and the City of Fernie.  I was involved attending meetings regularly as the city liaison and can tell you first hand how much work this group of people did to make the new museum venue a reality.  Fundraising, getting donors to provide services, getting volunteers,  working on the actual building renovations, Laura and this group did it all but most of all Laura made sure all the details were accomplished and done on time as well as physically doing a lot of the work and having her husband Terry  help out a great deal.  Laura also thanked the community for the great support given towards the restoration and for all the volunteer labour and products supplied by business and individuals.  Volunteers contribute so much and really help to shape their community she said.

The evening’s guest speakers were Natalie fisher and Claire MacNeil of the Fernie Academy, who spoke passionately on the work the grade ten children and teachers of that school do in Lima, Peru.  Natalie and Claire spoke about the “children of CIMA, a home for boys living in the streets, the students work along side these boys in the fields and workshops and help to build needed facilities.  In the process these students start to become better citizens of the world learning the meaning of service and gratitude”.

This year’s nominees are all winners because they all offer excellent products and exceptional customer service otherwise they wouldn’t have been nominated and chosen as the top contenders for the awards.  But because one has to be chosen the following are the recipients of this year’s awards. Sincere Congratulations to all of you!

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New Business of the Year: The Loaf Bakery
Fernie Business of the Year: Big Bang Bagels
Entrepreneur of the Year: Grow
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Freyja
Outstanding Customer Service: Barkside Pets
Chamber Business Excellence: Overwaitea
Youth Achievement: Chalice Walker
Citizen of the Year: Laura Nelson

 
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