The Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce 113th Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony had a tropical Hawaiian theme, with lots of hawaiian shirts and leis (which ironically preceded a winter storm the blew into the valley during the weekend).

There was plenty of warmth and Hawaiian style food catered by Caffe Firenze of Florence at the Bitterroot River Inn Conference Center Saturday night, February 2, as the Chamber President Susan Wetzsteon was introduced and the annual business awards were handed out. The winners' list is included below.

  • Business of the Year was Nap's Grill, which made a move onto Hamilton's Main Street and opened up an adjacent tavern, continuing its regional reputation.
  • Business Person of the Year was Cody Omlid, who has taken Stevensville's Kodiak Jax to a new level, with Kodiak Jax II in Hamilton, CJ's Den and Bear's Lair Casino in Stevensville and most recently, Bair's Lair II in Florence.
  • The New Business award, (within the last five years) went to Main Street Toys in Hamilton and Jeni Seifert, who also shared the award with staff members Katy Bociek and Amy Lowery.
  • Community Asset award went to Lost Trail Powder Mountain ski Area, which started in the 1930s and keeps improving every season, thanks to the Grasser family.
  • Economic Development honors went to Cybernet 1, which encompasses Grizzly Broadband, Hamilton Computer Service and Cybernet 1. They have been busy adding fiber optic to ares of the valley.
  • Carol Holman of Stockman Bank won Volunteer of the Year, Melissa Greenwood of Ravalli Electric Co-op won the Spark Plug Award (see photo below), Bert Bovee was named the Chamber Staff Volunteer of the Year, and Dan Mitchell of the Paper Clip was honored as the Unsung Hero, an award to recognize someone whose work might normally go unnoticed. The award was started in 2001 and that first winner was Dan's mother, Carol. They posed together with Chamber Manager Al Mitchell (See photo above). This family continues to do great things for the Bitterroot Valley and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Chamber of Commerce President Susan Wetzsteon, Spark Plug winner Melissa Greenwood, Past President Dr. Lucas Pernsteiner. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)