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Big winners

Best local citizens, businesses honoured at Mark of Excellence awards
Kaytlin Hantke (left) and Rev. Alvin HIngley were honoured as Humboldt's Junior Citizen and Citizen of the Year at the HDCC Mark of Excellence Awards banquet on March 2.

It celebrated success.
The Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) held its 12th annual Mark of Excellence Awards on March 2 at the Humboldt Uniplex, celebrating the best and brightest of area businesses and people.
"Tonight, we will celebrate the outstanding successes of local businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs," said Kevin Plemel, HDCC president, in his message. "The enthusiasm that we witness this evening is a result of great passion and effort and from these qualities, an impressive business community is forged."
Plemel said he sees a robust outlook in the Humboldt area, and though there have been challenges in the past year, Humboldt has seemed to go right through them.
The area, he added, is building on its enthusiasm and optimism and he hopes that continues in years ahead.
The first part of the evening's business was to honour Humboldt and district's Citizen and Junior Citizen of the Year.
Kaytlin Hantke was chosen as the Junior Citizen of the Year by the Humboldt Journal and JCI Humboldt, who have taken over this award from the HDCC.
Tyrell Bjarnason of JCI Humboldt presented Hantke with the award.
The organization was happy to get involved with this award, he indicated, as it fits with their organization to honour a young person under 30 who is involved in the community.
Hantke is a high-achieving Grade 12 student in Humboldt who devotes her time to volunteering with a number of organizations and her church, to sports, to her studies, and her job with the Before and After School program at St. Dominic School.
Rev. Al Hingley was presented with his Citizen of the Year award by Humboldt Journal publisher Brent Fitzpatrick.
"The Humboldt Journal has been the newspaper of record for about 100 years," Fitzpatrick noted, and that was why the staff were so excited about being involved with the Citizen of the Year award this year.
Hingley, Fitzpatrick added, has helped shape our community and will be here to propel it into the future.
"I'm very appreciative of this singling out," Hingley said upon accepting the award for his massive volunteer efforts in the community over the years, most to do with his passion for history.
But he was thinking, he said, of all the people who he has worked with, who helped him grow along the way.
"I'm thinking of them as I accept this as humbly as I can," he stated.
Hingley acknowledged the nominees up for HDCC business awards that night, stating that "it is just wonderful what you do with your time, talents and treasure."
It takes a core of volunteers and workers, he added, like those in Humboldt to create the community that exists today.
And if the high moments of achievement are of great importance, he said, so are the small, day-to-day contributions of caring and concern expressed from citizen to citizen.
A little recognition, he concluded, is good for the soul.
That recognition continued throughout the evening.
Three local business legends: Wilfred Chamney of Humboldt Flour Mills, Gerald Hergott of Hergott Farm Equipment and Dennis Korte of Graphic Arts Printing were the first inductees into the HDCC Business Hall of Fame.
Chamney, born in 1917, started working at the McNab Flour Mill at the age of 17. After it was destroyed by fire in 1956, he started up his own small grain elevator on the same property which grew over the years into the highly successful Humboldt Flour Mills.
Chamney, known as the Mustard Man, for his role in the growing of mustard seed in this area, shipped mustard and lentils around the world from Humboldt. He also built the first German-themed building in Humboldt - Chamney Platz on Main St. -after a fire ripped through the downtown area. He retired in 1995 and died in 2000.
At the banquet, Chamney was represented by his daughter, Eileen Leddy.
"I wish my dad was here to accept this honour," Leddy said, describing him as a determined and canny businessman who remained humble throughout his life.
"On behalf of the family, I thank the (HDCC) for this tremendous honour. As a sentimental Irishman, I know this honour would have brought him to tears," she concluded.
Gerald Hergott purchased an interest in Hergott Farm Equipment in 1960, and has seen the company thrive, not only gaining the distinction as being the first International Harvester XL and Partsmart Dealer in Canada, but achieving the highest level of excellence attainable by an International Harvester agricultural dealer.
Hergott has also volunteered his time to the community through a number of organizations and providing a leadership role in the building of the Humboldt Uniplex.
He remains active in his company today.
"I certainly want to thank the (HDCC) committee that... decided I would be worthy of this," Hergott said at the induction.
"We are sitting here in a building I have great memories for and work invested in," he noted, explaining that over six years, his committee met 400 times before the planning for the Uniplex was complete.
"I feel pretty proud of the fact we were able to get that job done," he noted.
Dennis Korte, born in Muenster in 1942, has been in business since he was very young. He established Graphic Arts Printing in 1969, and volunteered countless hours to community projects since, including serving as Mayor for six years, and helping to form the Central Plains Health District, in addition to his involvement with music, history and sports in the community.
Korte still actively operates his business with wife Vyenda and brother Jim.
Korte said he was happy to be inducted with Chamney and Hergott.
"I'm honoured to be with that crowd," he said.
His involvement with his band, the Bier Tent Gang, has kept him humble, he smiled.
After singing in the hospital about five years ago, he ran into a friend, he noted, and Korte said, "I hope you get better, soon."
"I hope you do, too," the man replied.
"I'd like to thank you for giving this honour to my family," he concluded.
Up next came the Mark of Excellence Awards.
The Community Merit Award, which recognizes a local non-profit organization that has made a positive and creative effort to enhance the community, went to Safe Communities Humboldt and Area (SCHA).
SCHA is dedicated to eliminating injuries and promoting a culture of safety through a variety of programs and education.
Accepting the award was board member Rick Merkosky.
"Thanks so much," he said, on behalf of the board and volunteers.
Also nominated were Big Brothers Big Sisters of Humboldt, the Humboldt and District Kinettes, the Humboldt and District SPCA and the Humboldt District Hospital Foundation.
The Community Involvement Award, for a business demonstrating exceptional support of the community and voluntary groups, went to Conexus.
Conexus has community involvement as one of its top priorities. In 2010, its employees committed 33,807 volunteer hours to the communities where they live and work and has made cash and in-kind donations to various organizations.
"I'm very excited and very honoured to accept this on behalf of all of Conexus, especially the Humboldt staff," said Lance Unger of Conexus.
Also nominated were Canadian Tire Humboldt and the Humboldt Co-op.
The Service Award, for a business demonstrating exceptional customer service, went to Diamonds of Detroit. Also nominated were Canalta Hotel Humboldt, Century 21 Diamond Realty, Haus of Stitches, Humboldt District Hospital, Mark's Work Wearhouse, Reitmans, and Schuler-Lefebvre Funeral Chapel.
Diamonds of Detroit, celebrating 25 successful years in 2010, strives to give their customers the ultimate buying experience, using ongoing communication, free gift wrapping, a five-year guarantee, state-of-the-art inventory and knowledgeable staff.
"Thank you for taking the time to recognize excellence in business and entrepreneurship," Michelle Bankowski, owner of Diamonds of Detroit, told the HDCC. That excellence, she added, "is alive and well in Humboldt."
The Service award, she noted, is, to her, the best award in the world. "It's what business is all about."
Bankowski also took home the Marketing Award from the HDCC for their strategy that's encapsulated by the slogan "Quality comes in a burgundy box." In addition to this branding, Diamonds of Detroit has also invested in social and conventional media campaigns. The company won the provincial Award for Business Excellence in Marketing in 2010.
"This is twice exciting," Bankowski said in her second appearance on stage.
"I love (marketing)," she said. "And I have a lot of fun doing it."
Also nominated for the Marketing Award were Action Services Cleaning and Restoration Specialists, Colony Motor Products, Imagin Photography and Prairie's Edge Development Corporation.
Colin Tamme of Koenders Manufacturing was named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Along with being a shareholder, Tamme is the general and sales manager at Koenders, and acts as design engineer. Koenders produces about 125 different products that serve a variety of industries, and Tamme has implemented new processes and marketing strategies to increase the diversity of the company, allowing them to compete on an international scale.
"I'm truly honoured to accept an award like this," Tamme said, acknowledging the role of his staff and his family in the winning of this award.
Also nominated were Regan and Jodi Grace of Cutting Edge Floor Covering, Thomas and Pamela Stadnyk of Bluestone Builders Group Inc. and Aaron Strueby of Strueby Plumbing and Heating.
The New Business Venture Award, aimed to honour those less than three years old, went to Canadian Tire Humboldt.
Canadian Tire Corporation purchased land in Humboldt in 2009 and opened a store the same year with the collaboration of associate dealer Greg Velanoff. The store now enjoys one of the corporations' highest customer service index scores and highest average sales per customer ratings.
"I'd like to thank the entire community of Humboldt for welcoming Canadian Tire," said Velanoff. This community and region, he added, has some of the most potential in both North America and the world.
"We look forward to being a part of the community for a long time to come," he concluded.
Also nominated were Bluestone Builders Group, Canalta Hotel Humboldt, Chick Allan's Restaurant, Designer Styles Salon and Giftware, Heim-Sinn Furniture and Dekor.
The Small Business of the Year award went to Century 21 Diamond Realty, owned by Dan and Cheryl Torwalt. The local real estate company has been recognized by Century 21 for achievements in sales and over the past two years have tripled their sales staff.
"With all the great nominees in the category, I didn't really expect to have to give a speech," said Dan Torwalt.
They take great pride in the community of Humboldt, he indicated.
"We love Humboldt, and we promote it big time."
Also nominated were CR Eavestroughing, Imagin Photography, Malinoski and Danyluik Funeral Home, Ravenheart Farms, Thrifty Market and Tin Roof Construction.
The Bella Vista Inn won the final category of the night - the Large Business of the Year.
The full-service, 44-room hotel with restaurant, catering department and licenced beverage room, opened for business in 1979 and is committed to providing their customers with a home away from home.
Vanessa Ollerich accepted the award on behalf of Judy Plag, the general manager.
"We would not be up here if not for our greatest asset - the people who work with us," Ollerich said.
The Bella Vista employs over 70 people and they all work with the thought "consider our hotel your home," she said.
"That's how we operate," she noted.
Also nominated were Discovery Ford, Horizon Fertilizers Inc. and Humboldt Lumber Mart/RONA.
The HDCC currently has 196 members - the most in their history.

Measuring success

Richard Brown, host of the Afternoon News on News Talk 650 CKOM, was the guest speaker of the evening at the 12th annual Mark of Excellence Awards.
A native of Prince Albert, Brown spent several decades in broadcasting in the United States before retiring to Saskatoon, where he soon began working again.
Brown spoke about success by relating his own adventures around the world, covering things like a mob hit by John Gotti in New York and the genocide in Rwanda.
Early in his career, he noted, he achieved success by not getting killed while in Beirut in 1984 after the Marine barracks bombing.
Later, he said, he thinks he was the only person to sit down in a restaurant with mob boss John Gotti and not get hit in the head with a .22.
"That was success," he smiled.
After seeing the devastation in Rwanda, realizing that you can't change the world, but you can change your family, neighborhood, community or province was his personal success.
"I've spent a lot of time since working with charities... on things I can accomplish in my neighborhood, my community," he said.
Today, he said, success is dependent on how much we're prepared to risk.
"There's nothing wrong with failure as long as you get back up and do it again,' he said.
What Humboldt has today, he noted, is unheard of in the history of this province. The opportunities that there are now are better than every before, he indicated.
We need, he said, to continue to encourage you people to succeed, fail and succeed again. He asked the entrepreneurs in the room to mentor, encourage and share their stories with youth. He also told them not to be bound by rules, but to make their own, and therefore, make their own success.

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