Gage named Unsung Hero at annual Chamber banquet

43_unsunghero9534SPECIAL PRESENTATION  — John McFarland, a past CofC president, presented the Unsung Hero award to Mark Gage. This award goes to a person who volunteers their time and energy toward the betterment of Conrad and deserves special recognition for their efforts. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler




By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

Mark Gage, an accountant with Brown, Fichtner and Associates, has been selected as the 2010 Unsung Hero.

The award was presented at the 46th annual meeting and banquet of the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday evening.

The coveted award is presented to an individual who volunteers their time and energy toward the betterment of Conrad and deserves special recognition for their efforts.

Before the “Big Secret” of the night was awarded, there were a number of reports from other entities and special speaker Mark Matteson.

Getting the evening started was the presentation of the Colors by the local Boy Scouts from Troop 541 and an invocation by Pastor Pete Wetendorf of the Conrad Mission Church.

Shari Richter, outgoing CofC president, gave a short welcome to a packed house in Norley Hall.

Cheryl Curry from the Pondera Regional Port Authority was first up and noted that during the past year they had merged with the local EDC (Economic Development Corporation). Through the EDC, $25,000 had been donated to the schools and the Housing Stabilization Program had two houses with a third in the works. Through $270,000 in revolving loans funds they have helped make it possible for local businesses to retain or add 12 full-time employees and six part-timers.

Conrad Mayor John Shevlin noted that 2010 was a great year and the city has saved taxpayers a lot of money.

One area was the mosquito abatement program that saved taxpayers about $60,000, they have added an employee insurance program and by paying off SID-68 they city was able to save taxpayers $500,000.

Money was also granted to the Pondera Arts Council and Keil Park project to name a couple of areas they helped out.

State Senator Llew Jones SD-14 noted what a “great event this was,” and gave regrets from Rep. Rob Cook who could not get away from his legislative duties in Helena to attend.

The senator is working on a revised Workman’s Comp bill to name just one. “Hats off to you,” he said, “it’s businesses and people here that make this event happen.”

Richter came back to the podium to report that the CofC had a great year, helping with National Night Out, which was a great success, “the monthly CofC meetings were super,” and the Chamber was able to donate $2,500 to the local Community Cancer Foundation.

Chamber president for 2011, Joel Farkell, recognized outgoing board members Shirley Kronebusch, Jamey Byrnes and Doug Moritz.

The board of directors for the coming year is Farkell president, Gerald Miller 1st-VP, Mary Erickson 2nd-VP, Darin Stanley, Carole Jones, Joan Jensen, Katie Missik, Bev Widhalm, Cindie Vandenberg, Ken Larson, Mike Lytle and Barbie Killion.

43_jamey9531Jamey Byrnes, the manager of Gary and Leo’s IGA was presented with both the Outstanding Board member and the Business Person of the Year for his commitment to the Conrad business community.

The Clydesdale award was presented to the Conrad Lions Club for working together on the many projects that benefit our area.

Mark Matteson, an author, public speaker and consultant, was the CofC keynote speaker for the evening.

He gave a presentation on Raise the Bar in 2011: How to have your best year ever, in a funny and entertaining fashion.

Matteson noted he travels about 200 times a year and flies on Delta Airlines, which “Stands for Don’t Expect Your Luggage to Arrive, and it didn’t.”

During his talk, he had volunteers come up, mostly being women, to whom he gave out one of his books. He noted that men are afraid to volunteer and asked, “What do you call guys with half a brain? A genius,” was the answer.

Matteson ran off a list of items that were geared to help one’s business improve.

John McFarland gave an emotional testimony for Gage in presenting him the Unsung Hero award.

He noted that among his many attributes, he was a Little League coach, and went on to be the Commissioner, making and working on numerous improvements at the ball fields, making it one of the best baseball complexes in all of Montana.

Gage served in both the youth basketball and Little Cowboy football programs and served on the District 10 school board for over 10 years.

He was a founding member and still serves on the Regional Port Authority and the Conrad Community Education Foundation, all the while trying to fly “under the radar.”

Not anymore.

The evening dinner was catered by Big Ox BBQ and Catering and Ed’s Tavern took care of the no-host bar. The CHS Spanish Club served the dinners to earn money for a trip to Spain this summer.

Dan Majerus was the winner of the 50/50 raffle, a neat $210.

Other prize winners, with the Big Spin, run by Mike Lytle, saw Judy Larson win a radio and year’s subscription to Sirius® Radio; Cheryl Tornga took home a 32-inch flat screen TV and also won $20 which she donated back.

Darlene Miller won a digital camera; Kayla Bokma won $5 and later won $100. Mark Jones was a $20 winner which he donated back. Mike Henning was a $50 winner and Carole Jones picked up movie tickets for the Orpheum Theatre.

Bob Hermance won wine donated by the local IGA, Melissa Moritz won a snow removal or lawn care certificate; Howard Bouma took home a Tom-Tom GPS, so there is no excuse about getting lost and being late for work anymore; Shirley Kronebusch won a family pass for events at CHS; and Cathy Murphy was a $100 CofC gift certificate.

Molly Bock, the executive secretary for the CofC, commented and getting through her first annual dinner, “I’m really happy, everything went so well, everyone seemed to have a good time, it was very successful.”