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Chamber honors Darex co-founder

ASHLAND -- Dick Bernard, co-founder of Darex Corp., was honored by theAshland Chamber of Commerce Thursday night as its Citizen of the Year.

He and his son, company president Dave Bernard, were headed to Germanyfor an international trade show. Accepting the award on his behalf werehis wife, Jean, and his daughter-in-law and Dave's wife, Marge.

Darex combines the initials of Dave, Arthur and Richard Bernard. Thecompany was founded in Beecher, Ill., in 1973, and moved to Ashland in 1979.

The company makes drill-bit sharpening equipment. It added 20,000 squarefeet last year to double the size of its plant at 20 Hersey St. and is movinginto products for the home market. Its 1996 sales were $9 million, up 10percent from the previous year.

It also was the principal benefactor for the ice skating rink that openedlast winter in Lithia Park.

Oregon Business magazine listed it 17th among the 100 top places to workin the state this year. It was the second such listing for Darex.

Dick Bernard, 65, earned a bachelor's degree from the Illinois Instituteof Technology. He was in the Army Signal Corps in 1955 and 1956.

Among his past community involvements were the boards of the Ashlandchamber, Ashland YMCA, Ashland Community Hospital Foundation, Oregon ShakespeareFestival and its endowment, and the Rotary Foundation.

The chamber also honored Brian Almquist, who is retiring after 27 yearsas city administrator, with an honorary life membership.

Other awards announced at the chamber's 91st annual dinner at Windmill'sAshland Hills Inn and Suites:

Public-private partnership award: Southern Oregon University.

Community action award: Fire Chief Keith Woodley.

Retail business of the year: Paddington Station, Pam and Don Hammond,owners.

Manufacturing business of the year: Siskiyou Buckle, Mark and Karyn Milhalivech,owners.

Service business of the year: Butler Ford/Acura, Chuck and Linda Butler,owners.

Volunteer of the year: Alan Fulkerson.

Ann Seltzer of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival succeeded Michael Gibbs,president of the Winchester Inn, as chamber president.

Stephen Reno, president of Southern Oregon University, was the main speakerat the banquet.