Beaverhead Chamber presents annual awards

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Awarding experience

Granddaughter of the original owner, Donna Jones (right) and Andrus Hotel General Manager, Michelle Cohen (left) accept the Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture’s New Business of the Year award on Saturday from Chamber Executive Director Rebecca Jones (center) M.P. Regan photo

With guests bedecked in some of their finest clothes, the Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture honored some of the community’s finest members at its annual “Black Tie & Boots Gala” on Saturday in the Dillon Elks Lodge.

The evening event included a social hour, sit-down dinner, live music, dancing—and the announcement of the winners of the Chamber’s 2021 awards for: New Business of the Year; Agribusiness of the Year; Community Organization of the Year; and Chamber Member of the Year; Business Woman of the Year; Business Man of the Year; and Teacher of the Year.

“In a year where everyone’s focus was on health care for the community, Barrett Hospital foundation was there to help,” said Chamber Executive Director Rebecca Jones in announcing Barrett Hospital & Healthcare as winner of Community Organization of the Year, an award accepted by the foundation’s executive director, Brooke Erb, and its board chair, Janet Tatarka.

“By supporting Barrett Hospital & Healthcare, the foundation ensured the community support was steadfast and solid,” continued Jones of the foundation that also provides scholarships to standout students and medical equipment to area health care providers,

“Where would cattle ranching and rodeo be without great horses—and Beaverhead County is proud to have one of the best quarter horse breeders right here,” stated Jones in announcing Harrington Hirschy Quarter Horses as the Chamber’s 2021 Agribusiness of the Year.

“Harrington Hirschy partner with the center for horsemanship at the University of Montana Western by donating to the colt sale every year,” added Jones of a sale that in 2021 raised more than $200,000 for UMW’s natural horsemanship program.

“The Andrus Hotel has been reborn in Dillon thanks to Dr. John Micha and the hard-working Michelle Cohen,” said Jones in introducing the Andrus Hotel as winner of the New Business of the Year.

“The hotel experience is unparalleled in Dillon, from the beautiful room suites to the rooftop gathering area,” added Jones of the downtown Dillon luxury hotel originally opened in 1917 by Harry Andrus, and then reopened after a long furlough, last year—following an extensive renovation led by its current owner, Micah.

“Michelle is the heart of the hotel and works tirelessly to ensure all the guests have an outstanding experience in Dillon and Beaverhead County,” said Jones of Cohen, the hotel’s general manager who accepted the award along with Donna Jones, the granddaughter of Harry Andrus.

“Julie is deserving of Business Woman of the Year because she cares so much about her patients,” read Jones of a nomination submitted for the award’s 2021 winner, Julie Seminara of Beaverhead Urgent Care.

“During COVID she exhibited great compassion for her sick patients, even helping them to facilitate video conference calls when they could not come in to the office. Julie goes above and beyond for the community by providing first aid stations at rodeos, parades and community events. Julie gives of her time to help whenever she can.”

“Mike is deserving of the Business Man of the Year,” stated Jones in announcing Mike Blando as that award winner.

“As a Rotarian, he is always helping the community. His attentiveness to his clients and community involvement is unmatched,” continued Jones of the Rotary Club leader.

“Joanne has worked in Dillon owning the local radio station for years,” said Jones in presenting the Chamber Member of the Year award to KBDMKBEV’s JoAnn Juliano.

“She has worked tirelessly to promote local business, with “shop local” messages to help the economy to thrive. JoAnn as served the community by donating elementary school supplies to all students in Beaverhead County,” said Jones, citing a program of the radio station’s that served nearly a thousand area students last year.

A pair of educators who serve area students in other ways also got honored at Saturday’s Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture event.

“Kristi teaches all subjects in all K-8 grades at Polaris School in a one-room schoolhouse, and having taught in a combination room knowing that you are doing about 15 lessons at once, I don’t know how you do it,” smiled Jones of Kristi Borge, , including Kristi Borge, winner of the Montana Teacher of the Year award announced in September by the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

“Miss Borge goes above and beyond to make sure all her students are getting what they need in the unique one-room school house environment,” continued Jones, who also announced Jennifer Ostler of Parkview Elementary as the Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture Teacher of the Year.

“There are so many wonderful educators in this community, not only have many of them shaped my own children, but many of them have molded me as the teacher that I am today,” wrote Ostler in an acceptance letter read during Saturday’s Chamber awards ceremony by Jones.

“I thank each and every teacher who has been a part of my life and as a student, and as a parent, and as a colleague. I remember each of these educators for so many reasons. Without them, my life would be very different,” continued Ostler, who also thanked her family in the letter.

“Most of all, I would like to thank you for sharing your children with me. Thank you for trusting me. I love the students who come into my life and strive to do my very best for each of them.”