Monthly Archives: January 2017

Real Winners

I couldn’t wait to give out the awards Friday night!  For weeks, we had to keep a lid on both our guest speaker and award winners which was so hard because they were all exceptional!  I was truly honored to be able to hand these out to some truly deserving people.

Over 300 people attended our Annual Banquet held on Friday and seven awards were presented.  The Chamber has a long history of awarding admirable community and business leaders.  I mentioned before, but indeed need to mention it again.  The over 20 nominations from the membership this past year is truly a testament to the quality of people living and working in this community.  Committee members and the Chamber Board of Directors voted on those nominations and the winners were announced that night – several receiving standing ovations.

The Williston State College Foundation bestowed the first award – the Leonard P. Nelson Philanthropy Award.  Terry Olson, Executive Director of the Williston State College Foundation presented Lois Scheele with that award for donating over $5 million to the Mondak Animal Rescue.  The Chamber presented the next six awards.  The award winners are:

  • Chamber Connector Award – Kristin Oxendahl (Salvation Army of Williston)
  • Community Engagement Award – Bras For A Cause accepted by Marti Pankowski, Founder
  • Williston Leadership Award – Steve Slocum (First National Bank & Trust)
  • Ward Koeser Advocacy Award – David Montgomery (Williams County Commission)
  • Patriot Award – Theresa Scully (Veterans Assistance Clinic)
  • Distinguished Western Star Award – Cyndy Aafedt (El Rancho Hotel)

The Chamber’s oldest and highest award is the Distinguished Western Star Award.  It is presented to an individual promoting Williston as a great place to live and work over a period of time.  The 2016 awardee, Cyndy Aafedt, was recognized for being an ambassador and volunteer; donating her time, talents, and resources (often financial) to various Williston organizations.

Attendees finished off their evening with an entertaining and inspiring guest speaker.  Kansas City Chiefs Mascot (KC Wolf) – Dan Meers, not only entertained the crowd in costume, but also inspired us with his speech and additionally, with the sale of his books gave a portion back to the beneficiary of this year’s silent auction: The North Dakota Association of the Blind, a participant from the 2016 Community Connections Expo.  It was a tremendous evening and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the committees,  volunteers, staff, and all those who helped us keep the secret!

I couldn’t be more proud of this community – and while there may have been several award winners recognized that night, I think we all win by having known them.


In Case You Missed It…

Our Annual Meeting was our chance to update our membership on all that we do.  Many people devote their time and energy behind the scenes, helping us in our mission to serve the business community.  Start with our Board of Directors who provide the leadership to govern the organization:  While 2016 proved to be a year of transition, one pillar board member was recognized at the meeting.  Travis Kelley (Target Logistics) has served on the Board for six years – including in 2015 as Chair and 2016 as Past Chair.  His leadership and constancy throughout the years through various evolutions was vital.  The membership also voted in three board members for new two-year terms:  Bill Glen (Glen Development), Audrey Kalil (NDSU Extension Center), and Larry Timpe (Cherry Creek Radio).  2016 Board Chair Rick Braaten (American State Bank & Trust) who faithfully served in 2016 stepped into the Past Chair role as the new 2017 officers were selected:

Chair – Matt Grimshaw (CHI St. Alexius Health Williston)img_0039
Chair Elect – Mitzi Bestall (ReMax/Bakken Realty)
Treasurer – Brad Curtis (First National Bank & Trust)
Secretary – Bill Glen (Glen Development)

Continuing to serve the board from 2016 into 2017 are Lenny Johnson (Starboard) and Brandon Lerbakken (JMAC).  With a full committed board, we can continue to move forward.

Alongside staff, our seven committees are responsible for implementation of the Chamber objectives and programs set forth by the Board and could not function properly without a volunteer leader.  These Committee Chairs (including two outgoing committee chairs – Jennifer Long and Monette Dias) are deserving of recognition as well.  They include:

Amber Barnes (Hampton Inn & Suites)
Grant Carns (Williams County Veteran’s Service)
Greg Hennessy (Hennessy Law Firm)
Moses Jacobs (EAPC Architects Engineers)
Lenny Johnson (Starboard)
Sarah Johnson (WCCU)
Crystal Purdy (Candlewood Suites)

Additionally, the numerous committee members, while too many to mention here, are invaluable to the Chamber as well.  Last but not least, the dedication of our Chamber staff – Bekka, Kelsey and Shawna is remarkable!    I am grateful for you all!  I can already tell 2017 is going to be a great year!

The Annual Meeting of the Membership today was a chance to acknowledge all the hard work the Chamber does all year long for our membership and community.  I look forward to recognizing even more leaders in this community and enjoying an evening of entertainment.  See you Friday at the Banquet!


And the Winner is…

At the Chamber, we love to recognize all the hard work that goes on in this Community.   There are many amazing people that do remarkable things besides run their businesses day after day and year after year.

Besides having a chance to network, eat, be entertained, and get informed on the Chamber next week at our two annual events, you will also be receiving your 2017 Business Directory.  As you recall, we had a photo contest for the front cover and we had many great submissions.  Our winning photo was submitted by Paul Gilbert, owner of Dakota Prints!  The 2nd place photo was submitted by Lavina Domagala who is employed at First National Bank & Trust and the 3rd place photo was submitted by Leann Cornell who is employed at Trinity Health Western Dakota!  Congratulations to all of you and thanks to everyone who participated in our contest.  While the winning photo is featured on the cover, the 2nd and 3rd place photos are included in the directory as well.

But they aren’t the only winners.  The Chamber has a long history of giving out awards.  Our Patriot Award and Western Star are the oldest.  Over 35 people have received awards over 20 years – that’s a lot of dedicated business leaders in this community!   We have in recent years added more awards (Connector, Engagement, Leadership and Advocacy).  This year, the Chamber will be giving out 6 awards.  As I mentioned before, there are so many amazing people in this community.  The over 20 nominations we received in November and December is proof of that.   The committee members had a tough job to do – rating each of these nominees in order to find a winner.  Each nominee merited our recognition but indeed a winner was selected for each of the 6 awards.

I bet you were hoping to find out who will receive awards this year at our Banquet.  Sorry to disappoint you in this blog.  You won’t be disappointed on Friday January 20th though!  When you join other members in an evening of fun, food and entertainment, and, of course, our awards, you’ll find out who the Chamber wishes to recognize and why.   I trust you have your tickets already reserved for the upcoming Annual Banquet and have RSVP’d to the Annual Meeting next week.  If not, call the chamber today (577-6000).  I look forward to seeing you there!


Did You Know?

All employees of member business are considered members of the Chamber and therefore can (and should!) take advantage of member benefits.  Take our newest benefit for example: discounts on specific courses offered by TrainND thanks to our new partnership.  These benefits are great for you, your employees, AND your business.  Winter courses are now available for registration and some classes begin as early as January 9th.  If your new year’s resolution involves improving yourself or your business, contact the Chamber today for registration details.    But that’s only one benefit of many….

As our new member packet explains, the Chamber isn’t just another club: we connect, engage, grow and lead.  We offer numerous opportunities for the businesses in the area and the community at large.  Opportunities like networking, events, education, marketing, advertising, bulk mailing, mailing labels, rentals, and referrals!  With so many opportunities to help your business, it is no wonder over 500 businesses invest in the Chamber.   Our member business sizes vary – slightly over 10 members have more than 100 employees in the area.  Most are small businesses with less than 10 employees.  We also have nonprofit members and individuals that invest and support the Chamber.  Our rough (low) estimate is that approximately 5,000 people can take advantage of Chamber membership benefits!  Are you taking full advantage?  Do all your employees know they can take advantage?  Do your employees receive our newsletter?  If not, please forward it on.

You know when I first started someone said to me – it must be hard having so many bosses!  It’s true – we ultimately are responsible to and work for our membership.  So I guess you could say I have over 500 bosses!  But I don’t think it is hard.  I am honored to live and work in a community like this one where people are connected and engaged.

When member businesses invest in the Chamber we are able to offer all the events, programs, services and opportunities the businesses and the community are used to plus continue to find more.  So thank you!!


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