McFarland named Unsung Hero at banquet

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
McFarland named Unsung Hero at banquet
UNSUNG HERO — From the left, Marsha Hanley presents her sister Janie McFarland with a poem she had written in nomination of her award plus a special plaque, naming the CHS instructor of over 19 years, the annual Chamber of Commerce Unsung Hero for 2008. Last year’s winner was Ruby Bouma. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
   Janie McFarland, a 19-year veteran of the classrooms at Conrad High School was selected as the recipient of the annual Unsung Hero award at the 44th annual meeting and banquet of the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday evening.
   More on this prestigious award later on.
   The banquet got going with the Pledge of Allegiance and American flag being presented by the local Boy and Cub Scout group followed by a short invocation from the Reverend Kirk Kestler of the First Presbyterian Church of Conrad.
   The table fest this year was catered by the Home Café and the meal, first class by any account, was made up of smoked rib steak and oven baked potato, steamed chef cut vegetables, a tossed salad and whole wheat bread loaves. The dessert consisted of apple crisp topped with a plop of vanilla ice cream.
   A new twist this year helped folks get through the buffet line much faster this year.  Borrowing from a TV series of years gone by, called Charlie’s Angels, CofC president and MC Jamey Byrnes, had Angels, Barb Killion, Mary Erickson and Shari Richter guide the seated tables to the buffet line and made sure that it moved right along, It did.
   Those giving local reports included Harold Olson for the Economic Development Corporation, who had held their annual reporting dinner at the Pondera Golf Club. He noted that his year the EDC had double it’s dues and that caused the membership to double as well.
   He touched on forgiving a loan to the PGC for their greens, the progress of a meat packing plant and an off ramp on I-15, with the surveying to begin in April and construction next year.
   Cheryl Curry from the Pondera Regional Port Authority noted that five loans for over $100,000 had gone out, creating six new jobs and retaining three. They are working with the city on the Industrial Park and I-15 off ramp as well.
   Mayor John Shevlin commented on how well the new street sweeper is working, work is moving along for the Industrial Park, Front Street got chip sealed and noted there are still holes to be filled which will be done this spring. He also touched on the Shooting Sports building, “That is coming along really well.”
   Byrnes flashed back on the success of the year’s programs, and activities which included the “big parade” at Whoop-Up, the Christmas Stroll and tree auction which has proceeds going to upgrade Christmas street decorations and the bringing of a circus and the well received Harlem basketball team.
   He also introduced Mayor Velda Locke of Valier and former mayor of Cut Bank Bill McCully as well as Mayor Shevlin.
   Mitch Hauer, Cynthia Ries and Nicole Lindberg did Karaoke impersonations that were done very well and one of “Sonny and Cher” by Ries and Hauer had the house giving them a rousing, standing ovation for their rendition of I Got You Babe!
   In the special awards segment, Rob Cook, manager of ITB was named the Business Person of the Year. Debbie Hicks was named Outstanding Board Member of the Year. Cheryl Sawyer and Everett Breding were named top Outgoing Board Members.
   However the award that everyone looks forward is the Unsung Hero award, presented to an individual who volunteers their time and energy toward the betterment of Conrad and deserves special recognition for their efforts.
   This year, that person is Janie McFarland.
   She is the advisor and mentor for BPA, (Business Professionals of America) at CHS, the junior class advisor, and helps with the PAL mentoring group program. She organized a youth basketball program for 180 elementary students, is an umpire for girls’ fast pitch softball in the spring, and is council member at the Pondera Valley Lutheran Church and active with the Conrad Booster Club.
Tara Hanley made her presentation.
   Readers will recall, she was named District 10 Teacher of the Year for 2008 as well and the state’s Business Teacher of the Year.
Vern Stokes won a 50-50 drawing of $170.
   The law office of Shari Gianarelli donated a large number of toys to auction, all at once. Mark Jones, CEO of the PMC was the top bidder at $300 and then donated the toys to Prairie View School.
   The CofC Board of Directors for 2009 looks like this: Jamey Byrnes, president; Gerald Miller first VP; George Tornga second VP; Terry Diedrich, Joan Jensen, Doug Moritz, Shirley Kronebusch, Shari Richter, Mike Lytle, Joel Farkell, Carole Jones, and Mary Erickson.
   The keynote speaker for the evening was Bob Green.  Green is the head coach for the Montana Tech football program in Butte. He has been involved in coaching for over 36 years, and has been head coach at Tech for 22 years.
   Coach Green came to Butte in 1986 and turned around a football program that was 0-10 the year before he arrived.  His success has brought him the honor of being named to the Butte Rat Club, a very prestigious honor.
   During his speech, Coach Green entertained the crowd with amusing stories about life and football that left the crowd holding their sides in laughter for the entire speech.
   He admitted that he does not know much about business, but quipped that he listens to advice from people who don’t know much about football.  Green then tried to draw comparisons between football and business management.
   Some key pieces of information included the ideas of teamwork, hard work, and checking egos at the door.  He stated that being the head coach is only one part of the operation, just like the manager is only one part of the organization.  Everyone in the business must be on the same page, whether it be the manager or the custodian.
   He also emphasized the importance of change and adjustments, in order to continue success, a company must change with the times.  A company must also always try and increase production, just like Green does on the football field.
   Last but not least the speaker stressed the importance of a positive attitude, which is extremely important in these trying economic times.
   Green was comical and inspiring in what turned out to be an uplifting speech.
Editor’s Note: I-O reporter Adam Jerome contributed to this story.