SM Chamber Honors Locals

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Two individuals, a business and an organization will be honored at the St. Maries Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Spring Fling Friday, May 1.

This year’s Business of the Year is Hughes Ace Hardware. The organization of the year is the Paul Bunyan Days committee and two individuals, Dan Hammes and Ginny Oakes, tied for Citizen of the Year.

The St. Maries Chamber of Commerce will recognize an organization, business and two individuals at its banquet Friday night. Hughes Ace Hardware, owned by Liz and John Hughes was named Business of the Year. The Paul Bunyan Days committeee represented by Kristi Wear, Dale Hill, Windy Sotin and Randy Nold was named Organization of the Year. Ginny Oakes and Dan Hammes share the Citizen of the Year honor.

The St. Maries Chamber of Commerce will recognize an organization, business and two individuals at its banquet Friday night. Hughes Ace Hardware, owned by Liz and John Hughes was named Business of the Year. The Paul Bunyan Days committeee represented by Kristi Wear, Dale Hill, Windy Sotin and Randy Nold was named Organization of the Year. Ginny Oakes and Dan Hammes share the Citizen of the Year honor.

“We always ask the business community to nominate who they feel are deserving and then we take the top four and send out a ballot,” Shirley Ackerman said.

Those who were selected this year will be recognized at the banquet, which begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. Breaded, grilled chicken will be served. The live auction will wrap up the evening’s activities.

This year’s banquet will be at the Elks Lodge and tickets are $25. A table for up to eight may be reserved as well. Tickets are available by calling 245-3563 or stop by AmericanWest Bank or the St. Maries Department of Labor office.

John Hughes said he and his wife, Liz, who own Hughes Ace Hardware, were surprised by the honor.

“We had been nominated in the past, but it is one of those things you don’t really expect as a longtime established business,” Mr. Hughes said. “It made us proud and it felt good that the other members of the Chamber thought of us enough to vote for us as a business.”

Mr. Hughes took over the business from his father in 1980. He and his wife employ 15 people.

“Our goal at this point is to keep improving the business, adding new lines that our customers want,” he said. “We want to continue to offer the products and customer service that we always have.”

“Hughes Ace Hardware is a great asset to the community,” Mrs. Ackerman added. “They are always trying to meet the customer’s and community’s needs and always display excellent customer service.”

Mrs. Oakes has lived in St. Maries since 1978. She has owned and operated her own business, Premier Financial Services, since 1998.

In addition to running her business, Mrs. Oakes is involved with several service organizations including Kiwanis, Hospice, BetterCARE and teaching classes to Boy Scouts. She has been involved with Hospice and Kiwanis for more than 20 years.

“I was honored to be selected because there are so many more people that are deserving of it,” Mrs. Oakes said.

“She is very passionate about the kids in the community and St. Maries as a whole,” Mrs. Ackerman added. “She gives back so much.”

Mrs. Oakes said she believes it is important for individuals to be involved in their communities.

“If we didn’t help each other out, it wouldn’t be the community that we love,” she added.

Mr. Hammes has owned and operated the Gazette Record with his wife, Cindy, since 1992, though he was involved with the business many years prior. He said he was honored to be chosen.

“It’s quite an honor to be selected, especially since there are so many people in our community who deserve the recognition,” Mr. Hammes said.

Ms. Ackerman said those who nominated Mr. Hammes described him as an individual who has the “courage and conviction to stand up for what he believes.”

“I think Dan does so much behind the scenes,” she said. “He sits on the hospital board and he’s very involved with CASA. I think it was his involvement as a whole.”

Finally, the Paul Bunyan Days committee organizes the largest event in St. Maries. The 2015 event will be the 47th year the event has been held.

In the last five years, Dale Hill said the committee has donated around $50,000 to projects at St. Maries city park alone. That doesn’t include donations made to various organizations such as the Distinguished Young Women program, the Easter egg hunt, Grammies Jammies, the local ambulance, St. Maries Fire Department and more.

“It’s a huge event for the community and they give everything back to the community,” Mrs. Ackerman said. “The recent donation to the amphitheatre is a prime example.”

“We’re very honored to receive this,” Dale Hill said. “We’re here for St. Maries.”

Each year, 25 to 30 people sit on the Paul Bunyan Days committee to plan the annual event.

“When we first started this it was to promote the businesses and help them through the tough times and that’s still what it is,” Mr. Hill said. “We have some new plans this year that we are excited about.”

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