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Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce hands out annual awards for Leadership and Economic Development Excellence

November 14, 2003View for printing

More than 400 people jammed a new banquet room at the Great Fall International Airport for the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner Thursday evening.

By Great Falls Tribune Staff

Attendance was the highest in years, chamber officials said. Strong promotion of the event, coupled with other factors helped boost interest, said Janet Medina, a chamber vice president.

"The new airport facility has to be part of the draw," Medina said.

Community attitude may also play a role.

"Personally, I think there is enthusiasm for what's happening in our city," Medina added.

The keynote speaker at the gathering was Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, a Lewis and Clark scholar and author.

The chamber announced several award winners at the meeting.

Mark Willmarth, training and development coordinator for the city of Great Falls, was honored with the chamber's Distinguished Leadership Award.

Willmarth's seminar and training efforts have extended throughout the community and state. Willmarth also has been active in the group's leadership programs.

Doug Nicholson, vice president and assistant controller at the Davidson Cos., was given the Leland J. Walker Award, which honors involvement with the Leadership Great Falls and Leadership High School programs.

A 1998 graduate of Leadership Great Falls, Nicholson has been involved with the group's steering committee for a number of years and is the chairman of the Leadership High School program.

The Great Falls Clinic and Greg Hagfors, its CEO, were honored with the Leadership Business Appreciation Award. The Clinic has supported the chamber's leadership programs with monetary and in-kind donations and encouraged employees to take part in the programs.

Mary Sheehy Moe, dean of the MSU-Great Falls College of Technology, received the chamber's Exceptional Volunteer Award for her work with the Community Economic Development Council and the chamber's Business Development Committee.

The chamber also posthumously honored Harriette Stewart, naming her its "Bluecoat of the Year." Stewart, a longtime Great Falls business owner and community figure, died in September. The Bluecoats serve as ambassadors for the business group. The chamber said it will retire the Bluecoat award in memory of Stewart.

Immediate chamber Past Chairwoman Susan Humble was recognized for her award from Arizona State University as National Outstanding Woman in Construction. Humble is president of Anderson Steel Supply.

Earlier in the week, the chamber and Bennett Motors in Great Falls honored Peggy Bourne with the Athena Award. The Great Falls city clerk and executive director of Explore! The Big Sky, was selected for her work in promoting women's involvement in community activities, specifically the celebration of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. A story about the Athena Award appeared in Tuesday's Tribune.

A the the meeting Humble passed the chamber gavel to the new chamber Chairman Bill Johnstone, president of D.A. Davidson and Co.

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