Photo by Tillamook County Pioneer
By Justin Aufdermauer
Saturday was our annual Community Awards Banquet and fundraiser at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds. It was a packed house as more than 400 people came out to celebrate with us and all of our Community Award nominees.
Each year it feels like this event gets more and more recognition from the community and we look forward to seeing everyone and enjoying a phenomenal meal prepared by over a dozen of our most recognized restaurants, and all coordinated by Chef Nelia Seratista of Pacific Restaurant. Nelia was gracious enough to work the evening in the kitchen all while being nominated for Citizen of the Year.
We also had a robust silent auction with donations from 75 local businesses, and it was exciting to watch as folks tried to outbid each other on their favorite items. Overall we had one of our most successful oral auctions, and I can’t thank Brett Hurliman enough for once again being our auctioneer and crowd pleaser. I must also thank our dedicated team of volunteers who pulled the whole thing off; this wasn’t just an effort by our Board and staff, and together we easily put in a couple hundred hours. Thank you to local Boy Scout Troop 582 for being our floor service and tear down crew for the eventing; and to Bridgett Kinne, Ken Phillips and Emily Critelli for being spectacular bartenders.
The entire evening was one of high emotions. We were sadly aware of Tommy Flood’s passing and had a moment of silence in his honor. The Schooner crew honored him well by carrying out a flawless paella in what I dub as “Tommy’s insanely large paella pans.”
We also handed out our first ever Program of the Year award to the Shop with a Cop program, which received a resounding standing ovation from the crowd. This program is in its 15th year in Tillamook and has helped more than 650 children have a merry Christmas by taking them shopping with a police officer. The community pride for this program was electric, and it was a well-deserved win.
Ken Werner was awarded Citizen of the Year out of a lengthy list of 10 nominees. Ken delivered a heartfelt speech thanking his community for taking a chance on him all those years ago and helping him build his legacy. Both Werners Beef & Brew and Werner Brewing Co. received nominations in other categories, and I think we can all agree that we wouldn’t be enjoying either of these businesses without the foundation that Ken Werner has laid.
Our other winners included the Blue Heron French Cheese Co. for Business of the Year. Not only do they provide a world-class visitor experience, their community spirit is tangible. The love and support that the Pastegas have bestowed on Tillamook County is a testament to their long term commitment to both our visitors and our citizens.
Madeline’s Vintage Marketplace took home Small Business of the Year, due in part to their resilient and positive attitude when faced with both the highway construction project and then a building remodel that forced them to relocate for the summer. These ladies provide impeccable customer service and create a storefront that sets a high bar for the rest of our downtown retailers.
And finally, Development Project of the Year went to the Highway 6/101 Realignment project. In the end, I think we can all understand and agree that despite the hardships of the last three years the investment in our city was well worth it, and the economic stimulation is already positively impacting our business owners. While there are still kinks to be worked out in the project, I hope in the upcoming year we can lay down our negativity and embrace the worthwhile improvements.
Thank you for celebrating with us! We look forward to another tremendous year.