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Hall of Fame, Leadership banquet is April 8

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In the spotlight for the annual Perham Leadership-Hall of Fame awards banquet, Thursday, April 8, will be Allen Arvig, Dennis Happel and the Rev. Phil Holtan.

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Arvig will be officially named to the Perham "Hall of Fame" at the banquet, set for the Mulligan's-Perham Lakeside Golf Course facility.

Leadership awards will be presented to Happel and Holtan, who helped spearhead two projects with a scope that spread across East Otter Tail County.

The Hall of Fame designees are for those individuals with a sustained contribution to the community over the long term. Leadership honors are presented annually to an individual or multiple people who exhibited strong leadership for a specific project or event.

Allen Arvig: Half-century record of civic service

Allen Arvig has spent much of his life in Perham, building on his parent's vision of providing telephone service to customers in rural communities. The number and size of Arvig telephone companies has grown significantly since its beginning in 1950, and has become the family of companies now known as Arvig Communication Systems or ACS.

Under Allen's direction, the company has begun to diversify into related industries that complement the existing services offered by ACS. These companies, including a call center, directory publishing company, telecommunications utility locating company, and more, have resulted in increased employment opportunities for area communities.

In addition to Arvig's business success, his involvement and contribution to the rural telecommunications industry has been substantial. On the state level, Allen has served on the board of directors and executive committee for Onvoy, and as a board member of the Minnesota Telephone Association (MTA) where he was presented their 21st Century Industry Leadership Award in the year 2000.

On the national level, Allen has served on the board for the Alliance for Telecommunication Solution Industry (ATIS), and has also served as president of OPASTCO (Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunication Companies) in 1995 after serving as first and second vice president to the organization. In 2003, Allen was presented the OPASTCO Chairman's Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the association.

In his free time Allen enjoys traveling with his wife Carmen, golfing, and is an avid collector of books and guns. Allen also has a passion for cooking which is illustrated by his enthusiastic commitment to "Big Al's Grill Team," a collection of friends and family who travel and compete in grilling competitions and raise money for charity causes.

Allen and his wife Carmen reside in Perham where he still makes time to involve himself in the community. Their five children, David, Dennis, Michele, Jay, and Ashley, are also active in the company's operations.

Pastor Holtan and committee fight hunger

The "Feed My Starving Children" project in March of 2009 was perhaps largest single undertaking in East Otter Tail's history. A total of 435,888 meals were packaged March 13-14. All of the packaged rice and soy concoctions were bound for developing countries. And leading the "Feed My Starving Children" campaign was Pastor Phil Holtan, of Calvary Lutheran Church.

Holtan is quick to credit his entire committee, and the more than 3,000 food-packers from throughout the region who assisted in the massive endeavor. But the Leadership-Hall of Fame Committee selected Holtan for the honor based on his high profile and visibility in coordinating the campaign.

The committee, lead by Holtan, raised more than $73,000 for the "Feed My Starving Children" effort.

Holtan's charitable work spans his entire career as a Lutheran minister, including extensive work with "Habitat for Humanity."

Holtan, one of eight children, grew up on a farm near Forest City, Iowa. The Holtan family was full of faith, music, extended family and hard work. Phil graduated from Waldorf College, Luther College and Luther Seminary, all with academic honors.

He interned at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Guadalajara, Mexico, and then served a two-point rural parish in Makoti, and later in Minot. For 23 years, he was campus pastor at Concordia College, Moorhead

He completed a Master of Theology degree in New Testament Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Worship at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

During his years at Concordia, he prepared and sent 2,900 students on Habitat, Justice Journey and Disaster Relief trips. He is a fluent Spanish speaker, has served as a pastor in Mexico and has taken 31 trips to Latin America, nearly always with a group of students or adults.

He was the founding president of Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity in the Fargo area and of the CROP Walk in Minot, North Dakota. He has been active with the Red Cross, Lutheran Social Services, Moorhead's Hispanic Task Force, and many other community projects.

He has been a member of the Perham Area Rotary Club, since 2007.

Holtan's avocation is woodworking. Phil has been an active woodturner for the past 30 years and since 1988, has been leading woodturning workshops in his studio.

Happel honored with second Leadership award

When $2 million in local money needed to be raised to complete the financing package for the new Perham Memorial Hospital and Home, the hospital board called upon Dennis Happel. The Perham attorney has a long history of successful fundraising for civic projects.

This is the second Leadership award Happel has earned.

The PMHH project was the latest of numerous campaigns he has spearheaded.

For the Perham Area Community Center project, he served on the committee that raised over $2.5 million from local and regional businesses and individuals

He then chaired the committee for strategic planning and fundraising for a $900,000 PACC expansion for a state-of-the-art walking track and 20,000 square-foot gym.

He served on the fund raising committee for the $1.5 million Perham Lakeside Golf Course Clubhouse construction.

As a member of the Perham Area Rotary Club, he has served as president and board member, and annual fundraiser chairman. He is a two-time Perham Rotarian of the Year, and also received Rotary Presidential Citation from District 558.

He has served on the board of directors, Perham Area Chamber of Commerce.

Happel was one of the volunteers that helped organize and develop the Kinship Program for Perham, and he also served as a mentor.

A Vietnam veteran, serving as a gunnery sergeant, Happel is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

Happel is a Member of the East Otter Tail County Historical Society and the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

Happel serves as city attorney for both New York Mills and Perham.

His long career in law has included numerous State Bar Association appointments. Regionally and locally, Happel helped organize the first Mock Trial Team at Perham High School, and coached several teams to the state contest. He has been active in the Otter Tail County Domestic Abuse Task Force, and has offered numerous presentations on the issue.

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