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Chamber honors first responders

Jackson County Fire District No. 5 Chief Charles Hanley, Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler and Asante Vice President of Nursing Amanda Kotler accepted a tribute award from the Chamber of Medford & Jackson County on behalf of local first responders and health care workers.
Awards ceremony recognizes individuals, businesses

The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County gave a special tribute award to law enforcement, firefighters and health care workers at its annual Excellence in Business Awards ceremony held this month in Medford.

In September 2020, law enforcement personnel and firefighters fought an exhausting, heroic battle to evacuate residents and fight the Almeda fire that swept from Ashland through Talent and Phoenix until it stopped on the southern outskirts of Medford. At the same time, the South Obenchain wildfire burned in rural Jackson County, but firefighters kept it out of towns such as Shady Cove.

Health care workers have been putting in grueling, emotionally draining shifts as they care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a special recognition award to recognize the hard work and dedication and sacrifices of first responders after what we went through not only with COVID-19, but the fires,” Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Eli Matthews said after the ceremony. “We really just want to thank them.”

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler and Jackson County Fire District No. 5 Chief Charles Hanley attended the ceremony and told how the Almeda fire taxed their colleagues mentally, physically and emotionally. They said they appreciate the gratitude the community has shown.

Appearing by video, Asante Vice President of Nursing Amanda Cotler accepted the award on behalf of health care workers.

“This is our community. This is our family,” Matthews said. “We wanted to honor the sectors that are literally on the front lines.”

For the Outstanding Corporate Citizen award, Harry & David was honored in the for-profit category, and the Northwest Seasonal Workers Association was recognized in the nonprofit category.

Matthews said Harry & David has been an incredible partner to the chamber, the business community and nonprofits. As one example of the company’s generosity, he said Harry & David donated treats for thousands of goodie bags distributed to health care workers.

Northwest Seasonal Workers Association advocates for seasonal workers in industries that include agriculture.

“They do incredible work for the people who put food on our tables, and it was time to honor the work they do serving people who work on our farms and in our fields to bring amazing products to us,” Matthews said.

The First Citizen Award, essentially the chamber’s lifetime achievement award, went to Randy Jones, general manager of Mahar Homes.

Jones has served with dozens of community groups and been involved in projects like the remodeling of Dunn House in the Rogue Valley for survivors of domestic violence, and the building and selling of portable houses to raise money for hurricane survivors in Honduras.

He pulled off dozens of rescues as a helicopter pilot serving on search-and-rescue missions.

Matthews said Jones has truly made the community a better place to live.

Business Excellence Awards for service, leadership and community commitment went to Lowe’s, Rogue Regency and Blue Phoenix Branding.

Ellie George of Home Quest Realty won the New Member of the Year Award, Skyler Tacchini of Farmers Insurance won the Rising Star Award, and Grange Co-op was named Retailer of the Year.

InfoStructure won the Member of the Year Award.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.