Wednesday, May the 4th was Star Wars Day and it was also the day the Forks Chamber of Commerce held its annual Best of Community awards at Blakeslee’s Bar and Grill in Forks.
Chamber Executive Director Lissy Andros welcomed the group of nominees, chamber and community members by sharing “The force is strong with this one,” a Darth Vader quote, to describe the nominees and what they do in the community of Forks.
“Many are a force to be reckoned with, are the driving force behind their passions and best yet-we never have to force any of them to do what comes naturally to them, which is help, give and care,” Andros said.
Newly elected Chamber president Sharon Millett was unable to attend the event but Andros read a statement from her which said in part, “To all the nominees …thank you for everything you do to make Forks a wonderful community. To the award recipients …Congratulations! Your recognition is well deserved.”
Best of Awards
Volunteer of the year
Criteria for Volunteer of the year award is given to a volunteer most deserving of recognition for community service to a specific agency and involvement in the West End of Clallam and Jefferson County.
Volunteer of the Year the nominees were:
Andrew Pursley, Forks Assembly of God
Jessica Sorensen, Forks Elementary PTO
Karen Clark, Friends of Forks Animals
Scott and Nellie Baysinger, West End Youth League (WEYL)
William Plumley, many different organizations
The winner(s) of the 2021 volunteer of the year award went to Scott and Nellie Baysinger. The Baysingers have been active over many years with youth sports in many capacities with the WEYL. The Baysingers will be moving away from Forks soon and that fact was noted in their nomination. Scott Baysinger said, “ We might be moving away but Forks will always be Home, we know that others will step up and help …this is Forks.”
Citizen of the Year
The citizen of the year award is directed to an individual who is a resident of the West End of Clallam or Jefferson County and whose activities take place there; embodies selflessness, integrity, and promotes the good of the community through their profession and or volunteer activities. These activities or services also go above and beyond the normal duties of an employed position.
Citizen of the Year Nominees were Bill Peach, Christi Baron, Diana Reaume and Jerry Leppell. The recipient of the Citizen of the Year award went to Christi Baron. Baron is editor of the Forks Forum and is also involved in many local activities which were noted in her nomination; Forks Old Fashioned 4th of July, West End Business, Historical Society and more.
Baron said, “Like many people in our community we don’t do things to win awards, we just do them …thank you for this honor.”
Business of the Year
The Business of the Year award recognizes a Forks Chamber of Commerce member business deemed most deserving of recognition for community service and involvement; good business practices that include good business ethics and employee support.
Decker City Hardware
Keller Williams – Rachel Breed
Miller Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast – Bill and Susan Brager and Trent and Mary Beth Thurman
Olympic Art Forge
Sasquatch the legend
Westend Taproom Tip & Sip
The 2021 Business of the Year Award went to Miller Tree Inn. The Award nomination recognized the former owners, the Bragers, and acknowledged their time portraying the “Cullen House” for many Twilight fans. They were also recognized for their community service; Bill served on the Forks City Council and Susan was active in Chamber activities. The Thurmans purchased the business just over a year ago and have been quick to get involved in community activities and have added new events at the property. The Inn occupies one of the oldest Forks homes built in 1914 by the pioneer Peterson family. Bill Brager thanked the Chamber for the award and added, “When we took over the Inn from Ted and Prue Miller we felt we were not owners but caretakers of this historic property, as we pass it on to Trent and Mary Beth.” Trent thanked the Bragers for passing the business on; and added that their first year has been good so far.
Susan Brager later added, “It was a surprise to us and a great way to end our inn-keeping career and a fantastic way for Trent and Mary Beth to start theirs. Thank you Forks Chamber of Commerce.”
Chamber ED Andros also offered two special awards.
The Halvie Award is named after longtime Forks resident and volunteer Inez Halverson. The award recognizes a local non-profit that goes above and beyond every year. This year the award went to Soroptimist International of the Olympic Rainforest. The award was accepted by co-president Cindy Mesenbrink. The group was acknowledged for their many charitable donations to the Caring Place and other non-profits, as well as the many scholarships they provided for nursing and medical education and their support of cancer patients with travel expenses.
Mesenbrink accepted the award on behalf of the organization and also acknowledged her co-president Diane Edwards, who happened to be volunteering and unable to attend.
A Cornerstone Award, which recognizes a person or entity that has made a huge impact on the West End that they are a cornerstone to our community, was also presented to Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach. Peach was recognized for tirelessly working for the people of the West End and acknowledging him for his knowledgable representation on Timber issues and more. Peach said he would give a “Peach Speech” and said, “Thank you.”
Andros also recognized her staff and volunteers and thanked them for all their hard work in 2021. Even with COVID the Forks Visitor Center welcomed 45,645 people last year and the Forever Twilight in Forks Collection saw 15,805 people come through the collection of Twilight memorabilia located in downtown Forks.