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Chamber Communique: Celebrating la vida local

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A full house packed the Historic Ashland Armory for the 112th Ashland Chamber of Commerce dinner on Oct. 4, which celebrated the theme “Living the Ashland Experience.” The program featured speeches and a video with scenes of people engaging in Ashland activities — from dining out to shopping, entertainment and outdoor adventure, all encouraging people to get out there and have some fun in your own community.

The following are excerpts from the program:

No one can dispute that we had a tough summer — we lived it. But, we are also immensely grateful for the relationships we share throughout this community. It is especially relevant in times of challenge to be aware of this important asset.

You are what make us strong and resilient because whether you are residents, business owners, organizational or elected leaders, dedicated employees working in our community or retired volunteers, everyone has one thing in common — we all love Ashland and want to make it better.

That love for this community is not a small thing. It unites us, it makes us willing to ask ourselves, how can we tackle the challenges facing us? Who can bring more ideas and creativity into the conversation? We don’t throw in the towel when times get hard, we roll up our sleeves and that’s exactly what we have done working side by side with our community partners — you — who through your efforts make a difference. We support and depend on one another — we are connected by a common bond and one that isn’t easily broken.

We honor those who have helped create this amazing town as we look to build on our strengths. That is what this is all about — thanking and appreciating each other, taking time to share our favorite things about Ashland.

Awards and recognition

Board President Mary Gardiner was installed for her second term. Additionally, several citizens and businesses were recognized for their significant contributions to our community:

Ashland Culinary Festival Top Chef 2017: Skye Elder, Brickroom Ashland. Skye was congratulated again for his success at the 2017 Ashland Culinary Festival where he showcased his culinary excellence.

Green Business of the Year: Recology Ashland. Recology was recognized for the support it provides to businesses and locals who strive for zero waste.

Emerging Business of the Year: Mix Bakeshop and ReMix Coffee Bar. Mix & ReMix were recognized for their continued growth and recent expansion.

Retail Business of the Year: Art Fx Fine Jewelry. For 17 years of quality customer service and unique and beautiful product offerings.

Service Business of the Year: The Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Valerie Rachelle, Rick Robinson and the entire cabaret provide an outstanding experience for visitors and locals alike.

Manufacturing Business of the Year: Irvine & Roberts Vineyards. Doug & Dionne Irvine were honored for their for their excellent product, beautiful tasting room and sustainable farming practices.

Greeter of the Year: Melody Blore. Melody is a fixture at Greeters, not only making everyone feel welcomed but also for furthering the efforts of Greeters by creating added networking opportunities.

Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Bonnie Oliver. Bonnie loves Ashland and spends her time volunteering for countless organizations, most specifically, the Ashland Chamber and Trinity Episcopal Church.

Community Volunteer of the Year: Ashland Kiwanis. Members of Ashland Kiwanis were recognized for their dedication to the Kiwanis Flag program and creation of the Ashland Monster Dash.

Community Action Award: Lomakatsi Restoration Project. Lomakatsi and Marko Bey received this award for their efforts in and stewardship of the Ashland Watershed, especially in regard to the AFR Project.

The Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement was presented to two couples: Barry and Kathryn Thalden were honored for the time, energy and resources into making happen significant projects such as the flower baskets downtown, the murals on Calle Guanajuato and Calle Ashland as well as the new Thalden Pavilion at SOU; and Irene Kai and David Wick were recognized for the development of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission and the World Peace Flame at the Thalden Pavilion.

Citizen of the Year Award: Marie Lange. Marie was recognized for her many years of contributing time and resources to numerous organizations throughout Ashland and specifically a great deal of that contribution to the Ashland Chamber.

Honorary Life Member Award: Retiring Oregon State Senator Alan DeBoer. Alan was celebrated for his outstanding personal contributions to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, the city of Ashland, region and state of Oregon. His decades of work to help nonprofits, schools and higher education has given him recognition and deep appreciation.

Accomplishments recognized

The Ashland Chamber through community partnerships and collaboration achieved success in the past year. We:

Conducted business workshops, analyzed the economy and helped businesses through challenges;

We advanced the Health and Wellbeing initiative;

We promoted supporting our independent businesses with new shop local campaigns, initiatives and fun events for the whole family;

We provided networking opportunities through Greeters and Ambassadors;

Through Travel Ashland (formerly called the Visitor and Convention Bureau) we promoted Ashland and collaborated with other tourism agencies to advance tourism;

We produced events such as our amazing 4th of July celebration, Children’s Halloween Celebration, the Ashland Culinary Festival and Festival of Light;

Our publications were completely redesigned, new videos were created and we dramatically grew our social media channels;

We tackled complicated issues with our businesses and community partners to help solve problems and improve the quality of life as mentioned previously with our Fire Prevention Task Force; and

Our Legislative Committee hosted Candidate Forums now viewable on ashlandchamber.com, as well as RVTV and Ashland Home Net Channel 20.

All these efforts and more with everyone working together for the greater good of community is truly what is special about this place we call home — where we choose to live, work and play — the people who make Ashland what it is and make a difference and for those things and more, we are grateful.

Go to To watch the “Living the Ashland Experience” video, go to ashlandchamber.com or directly to player.vimeo.com/video/293645496.

Sandra Slattery is executive director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce .For more information, go to www.ashlandchamber.com, call 541-482-3486 or stop by the office at 110 East Main St.

The Award for Retail Business of the Year was given to Art FX by Deena Branson. (Photo by Graham Lewis / Ashland Chamber of Commerce)
A Special Recognition Award was presented to David Wick (left) and Irene Kai (center) by Dennis Slattery (right). (Photo by Graham Lewis / Ashland Chamber of Commerce)
Oregon Cabaret Theatre received the Service Business of the Year presented by Gary Blake. (Photo by Graham Lewis / Ashland Chamber of Commerce)
Bonnie Oliver, right, received the Volunteer of the Year award from Graham Lewis. (Photo courtesy of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce)