Dayton Chamber of Commerce honors volunteers

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DAYTON -- Brian Black was praised as someone who has "the ability to take a group's vision, create enthusiasm in others, and put their heart and soul into making that vision come to pass."

Black was named Columbia County Citizen of the Year during the annual Chamber of Commerce awards banquet Thursday.

Norm Passmore, the 2008 Citizen of the Year, announced the award, noting that letters nominating Black mentioned his attention to detail, ability to keep the goal in sight, search for financial support and willingness to put aside personal time.

Black led the charge in getting the Columbia County Veterans Memorial in place on Main Street. The memorial features a series of basalt columns and a flag pole that can be lowered to place the flag over Main Street.

Soon to come will be a series of black granite stones engraved with the names of veterans buried in Columbia County. Presently there are 707 names, with one, Charles Pringle, possibly a War of 1812 veteran.

Prior to the awards, Black was one of the keynote speakers, telling the audience the memorial includes 997 hours of volunteer labor, and $30,000 in locally donated materials.

There are 500 veterans living in the county now, Black said.

The other speaker was Jim McArthur, one of the owners of the Last Resort Campstore and KOA Campground and manager of the Lyons Ferry Marina and Lyons Ferry Park.

McArthur said taking on the Lyons Ferry facilities has been challenging, but the first season was good, despite the sinking of a 30-foot boat in the boat basin on his first day on the job.

McArthur, his wife Angela and his mother-in-law Phyllis Rothauge purchased the Last Resort 10 years ago, McArthur said.

Two Historic Preservation awards were presented by Ginny Butler.

Bette Lou and Gene Crothers received an award for their work in restoring the barbershop on North First Street. The building was the office of Dayton's first physician, and for the past 100 years has been a barbershop.

The Crothers purchased the building with the idea of making an addition to the State Farm office, but Crothers said they decided instead to restore the building.

Also receiving an Historic Preservation award were Jay Ball and his wife Jennie Dickinson for their work in restoring an 1884 house on South Third Street. The house is a rental, but the couple decided to maintain historic integrity when fixing the exterior.

Dayton High School student Molly Payne was recipient of the Youth of the Year award. Principal Jude Cornaggia said Payne is "the top of the top" in her intelligence, talent and service to others.

Payne is a very strong leader, Cornaggia said. "You give the most, you work the hardest and you stay the longest."

Business of the Year award went to Dingles of Dayton, owned by Mindy Betzler.

Dingles was singled out by nominators for its willingness to participate in community events, donate to nearly everyone and for everything, to sponsor youth programs, and to pitch in wherever needed, Lynn Feeney told the audience.

Feeney represents St. Vincent DePaul, winner of last year's Business of the Year award.

Dayton Assistant Public Works Director Sal Benavides was honored as employee of the year.

Glenn Hagfeldt, 2008 winner, praised Benavides with a baseball metaphor, saying he "always, always, always steps up and swings for the fence when it comes to his job. He is a true and valuable team player."

Benavides has worked for the city of Dayton for 20 years.

In accepting the award, Benavides said, "I feel blessed and fortunate that someone even thought to nominate me."

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