The Rainforest Arts Center was all abuzz last Saturday night as community members gathered at the 23rd-annual Forks Chamber of Commerce Wine and Cheese and “Best of”’ Awards. While waiting for the winners to be announced, attendees mingled, bid on some amazing silent auction donations and sipped on an array of wines from Harbinger Winery.
The theme was Hall-o-wine and many came in costume. Super Mario character Yoshi was probably the most interesting. A couple of ladies came as white wine and Merlot, wearing corks on their heads.
The first award presented was a new one. The Inez Halverson Community Service Award was created this year to recognize entities in the community that don’t quite fit the Business of the Year criteria, but that make a huge impact on Forks.
The award was named after Inez or Halvy, as she was better known. Halvy was a tireless volunteer; a 4-H leader, a member of multiple groups and active in United Way. She passed in December 2008 and was never selected as a “Best of” Award winner.
The first recipient of the award was Olympic Corrections Center. OCC Superintendent Jason Bennett accepted the award, and was joined by some OCC staff members.
The center was recognized because of the many activities that staff and inmates are involved in, almost on a daily basis. Some of those activities include community crews that do landscaping and small projects for various entities in the community.
They also make a huge impact on the annual Quillayute Valley Scholarship auction, donating many handcrafted items created by inmates. Bennett said it was easy to do what they do because Forks is such a great community.
John Calhoun served as emcee for the evening. The Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Lonnie Archibald, who was recognized for almost 50 years of attending and photographing youth sporting events. He is now photographing the grandchildren of the first athletes he photographed. Archibald has also won awards for his news photographs and written several books documenting the history of the West End. His photos have appeared in the Forks Forum, Peninsula Daily News and Sequim Gazette.
Earlier in the day, Archibald had actually been in Pasco covering the Spartans’ cross country team at the state competition! He drove back for the award’s ceremony.
Archibald said, “It’s a great honor to receive this award. There are many who deserve it more than me. So many here in the West End have helped to keep this community alive even after the devastation of fires as well as the spotted owl. This is a great community with citizens who care.”
The Business of the Year Award went to Conner Nielson, owner of Clear River Construction. Nielson was recognized for his business ethics and also taking the time, even as he was establishing his new business, to volunteer to oversee the building of a Habitat for Humanity house.
The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Mark Soderlind. Soderlind was unavailable Saturday evening as he was attending Dad’s Weekend in Pullman. His grandson attends school there and the Cougars beat Stanford!
Soderlind was recognized for his continued efforts as Chairman of the Forks Old Fashioned Fourth of July. In addition to organizing Forks’ oldest celebration, he gives up every summer weekend to take the Forks Float to neighboring festivals.
The Forks Chamber received many amazing nominations this year, and they truly are all winners.