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Businesses reap awards in Oak Harbor

A bomb dropped on Whidbey Golf and Country Club would have effectively eliminated the bulk of Oak Harbor’s business leaders. And Tony Ventrella.

The sold-out Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet Feb. 9 was the event of the weekend, honoring local businesses and individuals for the provision of exemplary and quality services, and selfless volunteerism.

Ventrella, a longtime Pacific Northwest sportscaster turned motivational speaker, brought his inspirational anecdotes and familiar humor to the island.

“You can decide what type of life you want to have,” Ventrella said at the banquet. “Are you going to wake up and be thankful for all that you have been given or are you going to be miserable and spend your days focused on what you don’t have? You have a choice and it’s all in your attitude.”

Award nominees were selected by fellow chamber members for their business practices and the positive impact they have had on the community.

“We had an impressive list of winners this year,” said Jill Johnson, chamber executive director, after the event. “But the real story is in the quality of the nominees. There were so many good candidates nominated in each award category that it was really difficult to keep from giving an award to everyone.”

Volunteer Sande Crank-Mulkey of Edward Jones was given the Ambassador of the Year honors, while RE/MAX Acorn Property earned the Business Community Service Award.

Skagit Farmers Supply accepted the Customer Service award and the Venture Club for Tree of Hope was named Service Organization of the Year.

Acorn Dental’s Gail Turner received the Chamber Leadership Award. New Leaf, Inc., was recognized as the Non-Profit Organization of the Year.

Frasers Gourmet Hideaway was singled out for its consistently extraordinary culinary offerings with the Quality Award. And Skagit Valley College received the coveted Employer of the Year Award.

The chamber also handed out special Acorn Awards to individuals and organizations whose dedication and community commitment has played an integral role in helping Oak Harbor move in the right direction and grow into what it is today. Karl Krieg was recognized with one of the special Acorn Awards for his work in helping create a user-friendly and permanent home for the city’s farmer’s market. The omnipresent KC Pohtilla was “nutted” for comprehensively documenting community events and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station homecomings. Stan Stanley received an Acorn for bringing the popular Race Week to Oak Harbor.

Troy Muljat and Kent Thomas of KT Development, and Brett Ginther and Terica Taylor of Deception Pass Tours, were honored with special Visionary Awards. Muljat and Thomas garnered attention for the architectural design and quality construction of Harbor Station.

The chamber recognized Ginther and Taylor for literally launching their new tourism business that offers unique, water-level views of the Deception Pass Bridge and surrounding areas.

John and Myrtle Allgire, who opened The Casual House in 1963, were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the end, it was P&L Construction that walked away with the esteemed Business of the Year Award, the chamber’s top honor.

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