The Heartland Lakes Community Project Award recognizes an outstanding project that helps the greater community prosper and grow.
Former president/CEO Butch De La Hunt said Mary Thompson was an easy choice for this distinction, citing her leadership with the Heartland Lakes Economic Development Commission.
De La Hunt called Thompson “100 percent a champion for Park Rapids” in everything she does, adding “she has done a fantastic job.”
Whether it was securing CARES Act relief for businesses or bringing new companies to Park Rapids, De La Hunt said Thompson was a champion.
“Park Rapids is vibrant. Park Rapids is growing, and the people are trying to figure out the formula, and she’s part of it,” he continued. “Congratulations, Mary. Thank you for all you do.”
The Heartland Lakes Legacy Award went to Cynthia and Ellis Jones. De La Hunt explained that this award highlights the significant, lifelong contributions to the community.
The Joneses are the definition of logistics and community involvement, he said.
They operated RiverBend Home Expressions for 17 years. They have been active with Rotary Club, 2nd Street Stage, the Park Rapids Downtown Association, Legends and Logging Days, USXC Snowmobile Race and more.
The couple is moving to Colorado to be closer to children and grandchildren.
When considering the nominee for the Chair’s Exception Individual Award, Chamber Board of Directors chair Debbie Tostenson said Joe Johnson immediately came to mind.
Johnson has been the program coordinator for CHI St. Joseph’s FATHER Project since 2011. With his “passion, drive, commitment, transparency and strong leadership,” Tostenson said the program has “guided and helped fathers achieve goals and overcome roadblocks to become productive and independent members of their families and the community.”
Johnson received a standing ovation.
He said, “I would never guess that 12 years ago, overdosing and almost losing my life, that I’m standing here today. I consider it an honor to serve families, to improve communities. At the end of the day, we’re improving children’s lives. That’s what matters. The true weight of our work I won’t know in my lifetime, but that’s OK, as long as a kid has a healthy outcome, that’s all that matters to us.”
This year’s Shining Star Award went to Revel Brewing, owned by Katie and Dylon Deschene, for their business leadership and commitment to the community in 2021.
“Revel Brewing came into town in a time of COVID,” said Chamber President/CEO Candy Christensen, “and they were so excited to keep moving forward, getting involved and doing a lot for their community.”
The 2021 Tourism Award was given to Summerhill Adventures. This award recognizes a Chamber member for their exemplary dedication to keeping the tourism industry strong in the region.
Christensen praised Travis and Sarah Guida for reviving Summerhill Farms, marketing it under a new name and attracting visitors to the area.
In honor of their dedication to workforce innovation plus community and business leadership, Coborn’s received the Business Excellence Award.
Tostenson said, “This local business has served in the Park Rapids lakes area since 2002. They employ 50 part-time employees. Part of their vision statement is to be remarkable by inspiring happiness, healthy living and simplicity, one guest at a time. Part of their mission statement is to create a unique shopping experience, anticipate needs and exceed expectations for their guests. Throughout 2021, they far exceeded their goals for our community.”
Sue Tomte, who received the Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award last year, passed the crown to Debbie Haas.
Finally, Christensen gave De La Hutch a golden microphone trophy to thank him for his contributions during his term as president/CEO.