HE’S OUR HERO — From the left, Phil Broesder presents George Tornga with his Chamber of Commerce Unsung Hero award for 2010. This photo was taken the day after the 45th annual CofC dinner because George, dressed as ZZ Top could not unglue his beard at the CofC dinner. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Wednesday evening over 180 folks showed up for the 45th annual Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce banquet and awards night at Norley Hall.
In the most anticipated moment of the evening George Tornga was selected for the Unsung Hero award for 2010.
This award is given annually by the Chamber to an individual who volunteers their time and energy toward the betterment of Conrad and deserves special recognition for their efforts.
His nomination was read and presented by Phil Broesder. It was noted in his nomination that Tornga was a “great leader” and was there to lend a hand at anytime as well as being selfless and committed to the community.
He was commended for work done in the Orpheum Threatre and with the restoration of “the clock” now installed at the corner of 4th Ave. and Main Street. Tongue in cheek, it was suggested that 4th Ave. be named after him.
Diners were treated to a buffet type meal catered by Coaches Corner with the main fare being a stuffed chicken breast.
The format for the evening called for a synopsis of activity reports for the year from a number of entities.
First up was Cheryl Curry from the Port Authority, followed by Mayor John Shevlin for the city; Chris Berg for the Pondera Shooting Sports Club; a legislative report from Rep. Llew Jones; a county report from Commissioner Sandy Broesder and the CofC report from outgoing president Jamey Byrnes.
Lured out of semi-retirement, entertainer, attorney and former Conrad resident Mark Staples provided the keynote address.
While Jones kept after him to come up and entertain at the CofC banquet, Staples said, “Saying no to Llew was like saying no to a pit bull with your butt dipped in steak sauce.” It only got better from here on.
Staples commented that he was ahead of his time and Jay Leno by collecting “Headlines.” “I happen to have one from The I-O and Buck that says, ‘Conrad Archery Club is looking for folks to shoot this weekend’.”
He sang a ditty about Ewell Gibbons, a conservationist, and a parody of the (in)famous PTL Club and Tammy Fay and Jimmy Baker with one line going, (about Tammy), “They’re not talking about a ski report, they’re talking about my face, with six inches of powder and a 12-inch base.”
On a somber note, Staples told the crowd, “It means a lot to come here. It was the eight years I spent here that taught me about Montana.”
In addition to Tornga receiving the Unsung Hero award, he and Terry Diedrich were named Outstanding board members.
Gary Brown was named the Business Person of the Year. This award goes out to one who has shown outstanding commitment to the Conrad business community.
Gerald Miller was named as the Outgoing Board Member of the Year.
A new category in awards was added and that was the Clydesdale award.
It was presented to a group or organization that displayed a work ethic and showed team work, working together on a concept or project for the benefit of the area.
In this case, it went to people who had helped with the Pondera Shooting Sports Club building.
A number of these folks and their spouses were introduced during the awards ceremony and they included Bruce and Kelly Martin, Randy and Erin Brenteson, Scott and Sherrie Johnson, Dan Picard, Kip and Wendy Judisch, Jack and Barb Judisch, John and Penny Shevlin, Chris and Jackie Berg, and Adele Stenson. These are members of the Pondera Shooting Sports Club and in part were all instrumental in helping to get the new shooting facility building west of the softball complex erected.
A no host bar was provided by Ed’s Tavern, Bernice Paisley played the piano, Tornga led the Pledge of Allegiance and Pastor Larry Goyette from the Assembly of God Church led the Invocation.
The 2010 Board of Directors was introduced and they include: Shari Richter, president from River’s Trail Realty, LLC; Gerald Miller, 1st VP, G. Miller Farms; Doug Moritz, 2nd VP, G&D Hardware; Barbie Killion, Motivations; Joan Jensen, Stockman Bank; Cindie Vandenberg, Van Motors, Inc.; Shirley Kronebusch, Pondera Golf Club; Jamey Byrnes, Gary & Leo’s IGA; Joe Farkell, Golden Triangle Property Services; Mike Lytle, Mike’s Mufflers and More; Carole Jones, Pure Bliss Cycle; and Mary Erickson, Pondera Medical Center.
Judy Larson has resigned from the CofC. As of Monday, Letha Ashworth is the new executive secretary for the Chamber.