DAYTON -- With a take on Ben Hewitt's book, "The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food," Dennis Miller predicted Columbia County could be "the County that Food Saved," via the Blue Mountain Station.
Comparing the community of Hardwick, Vt., with Columbia County, Miller, owner of Artmil in Kennewick, and a consultant hired by the Port of Columbia to help develop the Blue Mountain Station, said the two places share similar assets, a beautiful setting, a vibrant downtown, a history of agriculture, and a few small producers already focusing on local products.
Miller was guest speaker at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce annual awards banquet Thursday night.
The Blue Mountain Station completed the first phase of infrastructure this year, and the next step is getting a building under way. The facility is located just west of Dayton along U.S. Highway 12.
The plan is to attract small food makers and processors, then promote food tourism, Miller said.
After Miller's presentation, Chamber director Claudia Nysoe debuted a promotional video produced by the Port of Columbia and Southeast Washington Economic Development Association.
Awards for 2011 were announced, with the winners introduced by 2010 winners.
Receiving the Citizen(s) of the Year award were longtime volunteers Betty Ann Fletcher and Elaine Hudson. The two women have contributed many hours as volunteers in the community, Roslyn Edwards, widow of Steve Edwards, last year's winner, told the crowd.
Before vote-by-mail they were eager participants in Election Day, manning polling sites, helping to count ballots.
It seems the two women have found a way to be involved in every community event in Dayton, from patrolling the walkway under the grandstand during Dayton Days, to helping with events at the Dayton Depot. They support All Wheels Weekend and Dayton Alumni Weekend.
Edwards described the pair as "kind, selfless and willing to contribute."
George Haderlie was named the Employee of the Year. He works at Dayton Mercantile, and was described as "always upbeat and helpful."
Haderlie never misses work and Reid Helford, last year's winner, described him as "friendly and knowledgeable."
Dayton Tractor and Machine was named Employer of the year. Scott Peters, representing last year's winner, Columbia Rural Elecric Association, said Dayton Tractor is a true success story. The company has risen to the challenge of a changing market, adjusting to continue to provide for their customers.
They are willing to drop everything to help customers with repairs, and their motto is "if we can't fix it or find it, it doesn't exist," Peters said.
Co-owners Jerod Culley and Jeff Heinrich and company founder Dan Culley accepted the award. Dan Culley is Jerod Culley's father.
High school senior Colleen Delp was named Youth of the Year. Delp accepted her award from Cougar Henderson, last year's winner.
Delp was described as hard-working and talented. She is a member of the ASB leadership team, and has been Youth and Government president for two years.
Delp is also a cheerleader and plays softball. She is student representative to the Dayton School Board, and a member of the Southeast Washington Youth Advisory Council.
Cathy George, a member of the Dayon Historic Preservation Commission, presented residential and commercial restoration awards.
Norm and Ann Passmore were honored for their work on the Zastro jewelry store, where they have maintained the 1950s storefront while converting the building into a dental office.
Willy and Molly Tate were honored for their restoration of a Queen Anne style home on West Richmond Street.
Carrie Chicken can be reached at email@example.com or 522-5289.