By Molly • 

Hagan Hamilton, Steve Patterson presented top chamber awards

Hagan Hamilton Insurance was named Business of the year Thursday, and Steve Patterson of Oregon Mutual Insurance was honored as Business Leader of the Year, during the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards dinner.

McMinnville High School cheerleaders welcomed those attending the event, which carried a sports theme again this year. It was held at the Grand Ballroom last year, but moved to more special McMinnville Community Center quarters this year.

A host of awards were presented to companies and individuals for leadership, community support and volunteerism.

Incoming board chair Stevie Whited of Express Employment presented a plaque to outgoing chair Patterson, who serves as vice president, general counsel and secretary-treasurer at OMI. “We’ll always be grateful to you for your example of strong leadership,” she said.

“Like a pitcher on the mound, you gave me an elevated spot on the field,” Patterson told those attending. “You made me better because of the great support.” 

He said, “My time on the mound was full of fast balls, screw balls, balls and strikes.” But he said there were numerous successes.

“We performed CPR and saved the turkey,” he noted, referring to Turkey Rama, which returned downtown in full force this year. And he said the chamber was able to expand its membership and build up its reserves.

Patterson presented two awards reserved for the chair, one for an individual and the other a company. He chose Jody Christensen of the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership and the Spirit Mountain Casino, respectively.

He said of Christensen, “We would be a poorer community without this person.” And he said that despite suffering along with everyone else in the recent depressed economy, the casino has continued to provide strong leadership.

Patterson also presented an award honoring the chamber board member of the year. It went to Kristin Dollarhide of Freelin-Wade.

He said that Dollarhide joined the board and jumped right in, serving on multiple committees and investing a lot of time.

The chamber’s Field of Dreams Award went to Headwater Investments, which completed a new building in downtown McMinnville this year. C.B. Mason accepted the award on behalf of owner Scott Chambers. 

Named No. 1 Cheerleader, for excellence in voluntarism, was certified public accountant Kathleen Bernards. Named Best Team Mascot, as the top chamber ambassador, was James Tate of NW Food & Gifts.

The award for Top All-Star Team, which honors businesses for business-education partnership efforts, went to Meggitt Polymers & Composites. The Top All-Star, which honors individuals for business-education partnership efforts, went to Brad Lunt of the OnPoint Community Credit Union.

In announcing Hagan Hamilton as Business of the Year, Leigh Ann Jones of Pacific Frame & Gallery said that the business has become one of the largest insurance companies in the state and one of the best to work anywhere. Hagan Hamilton CEO Rick John expressed appreciation for the honor, saying McMinnville is a wonderful place to raise a family and run a business.

Wes Thomas of McMinnville Water & Light announced Patterson’s selection as Business Leader of the Year. 

“He has the courage and conviction to lead his organization into the waters that may not always be the calmest,” Thomas said. He cited the chamber’s successful financial year and OMI’s donation of its parking lot in order to bring the Turkey Rama carnival back to its traditional downtown home.

Patterson said that since the age of 10, he had never lived anywhere more than three years until he landed in McMinnville. “To be involved in a community that we’ve grown to love is a blessing,” he said. 

Jeremy Lodge of Meggitt Polymers & Composites was named manufacturing leader of the year. He was recognized for leadership and vision.

Christensen presented the award, saying Meggitt had realized that it faces a challenge in finding skilled workers and “tackled the situation head-on.” She said he had joined forces with the Yamhill-Carlton School District to develop a mutually beneficial training program.

Christensen also bestowed honors on Betty Lou’s Inc., founded by Betty Lou Carrier and led by her in conjunction with her sons, as Manufacturer of the Year.

The home-grown business continued its a long expansion with acquisition of a second plant site this year. In recognition, Christensen said, “Betty, you are a treasure, and we are honored to have you in our community.”

Christensen’s final award went to Business Oregon, named MEDP’s Partner of the Year. “They stand with us every single day and address the challenge of competing in a global market,” she said of Business Oregon officials.

She called Director Tim McCabe a “guiding light” and thanked the organization for “contributing to the vitality of our local economy.” 

Brian Crane, principal at Wascher Elementary School, served as auctioneer for a dessert fundraiser that drew bids of up to $150 for a variety of desserts. 

Special recognition plaques for their efforts in getting the Newberg-Dundee Bypass to the reality stage were awarded to Yamhill County Commissioner Leslie Lewis and McMinnville attorney Dave Haugeberg.

In accepting the award, Lewis said that whenever support was needed, chamber members responded. She noted that a ground-breaking was held in the summer, and said, “In 2016, we’ll be driving on it.”

Chamber President Phil Hutchinson kept to the sports theme at the end, when he released Patterson to introduce Whited as the new chair, saying that Patterson was done on the mound and deserved a hot shower.

In taking the helm, Whited said there are many uncertainties in the coming year, but she encouraged chamber members to be loyal to their community. In tough times, she urged, “Look for answers in your community.”

At the beginning of the dinner, a special presentation was made to Doug Anderson, the chamber’s office manager and bookkeeper, who celebrated his tenth anniversary with the agency in September.

“On the Rocks,” an a capella men’s singing group froom the University of Oregon, wowed the audience with entertaining performances between award presentations. Rogue Valley Catering provided the sports-themed meal and Mac High’s culinary program provided the hors d’oevres.

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