Chamber Choice Awards ceremony honors community leaders

Perham's community leaders gathered for the 2019 Chamber Choice Awards banquet on Thursday night at The Cactus. Individuals, businesses and organizations alike were honored for their continuing contributions to the Perham community on behalf of t...

Fran Johnson accepts the Volunteer Award at the Chamber Choice Awards on Thursday night at The Cactus. (Carter Jones/ FOCUS)

Perham's community leaders gathered for the 2019 Chamber Choice Awards banquet on Thursday night at The Cactus. Individuals, businesses and organizations alike were honored for their continuing contributions to the Perham community on behalf of the Perham Chamber of Commerce.

The first award of the night went to Gene's Sport Shop which won the Best in Business Award.

Owner Tom Adamcyzyk said when he came home, his wife had prepared three speeches of varying length, so he was obligated to read one of them.

"My speech was thank you, good night," he said to raucous laughter. When the crowd settled, Adamcyzyk said the award was only possible with hard work and dedication from the stores staff "we look forward to serving you for many more years."

Bay Window Quilt Shop was then recognized for The Small-Town Spirit Award. Mother-daughter owners Sarah Hayden and Katie Hennagir accepted the award, and thanked their families and the community for the store's success.


"All the rest of the people in Perham help to make our business look really good," said Hayden. Whether it's been people on their way to an appointment at Perham Health, "or it's the United Community Bank supporting me through 30 years of sometimes needing to borrow a little money, they've believed in us."

"When you are a Perham business, it's different than being a business somewhere else," Hennagir said.

Next up was Fran Johnson who won the Volunteer Award. Johnson was recognized for her effort in renovating the historic St. Stanislaus church for the Perham Center for the Arts.

"With age comes wisdom, it's in that wisdom that I've grown to understand the importance of preserving the heritage and culture of our ancestors," said Johnson. "It's in this preservation we honor and glorify their many hardships and sacrifices."

Everybody must pay attention and remain dedicated to preserving Perham's architectural heritage, Johnson said.

"Always keep in mind, once an artifact of history is destroyed, it is lost forever, and remains only in our memory."

Steve and Lisa Sheets accepted the Humanitarian Award for their work on Perham's Giving Tree. Keeping their speech short, Steve said the support they receive from the community is just unbelievable.

"It's really not about us, it's about the Perham community," he said. "But thank you very much."


Cori Brown, Boys and Girls Club director, said she thought the committee made a mistake in awarding her the Leadership Award.

"You can lead all you want, but unless you have community support, staff and advisory council, you can't do anything," Brown said.

When she first moved to Perham, Brown said she hated it, and wanted to go back to her old community of 20 years. Now after 10 years, she can't imagine leaving.

"The resources that are available here are like none other. If you haven't ever lived anywhere else, you really don't understand it," she said. "If everyone just did a little, the world would be a lot different, and that's what happens in Perham."

Perham-Dent School Superintendent Mitch Anderson accepted the leadership award on behalf of the school's leadership team. Anderson said the vision the school board sought and hoped for when breaking ground on the new high school is finally a reality.

"New and innovative academic programs, like our student run business, Jacket Manufacturing are better preparing students for future careers," he said.

Anderson also credited BHH Partners for their dedication to the school's building projects.

"The added value of having a hometown outfit with PHS alumni, and proud parents heavily invested in the projects is beyond measurable," he said. "No corners were cut, and high accountability was present throughout the process."


The ceremony concluded with Tony Stoll of BHH Partners receiving the Hall of Fame award for his work in the community over a long period of time.

In introducing Stoll, Fred Sailer said the Perham community has been shaped by the creativity and culture that Stoll has brought to town.

"We tend to be a square building, slap it together type of town," Sailer said. "That has not been the case at all with Tony."

On behalf of everyone at BHH, Stoll started by thanking the Chamber for the recognition. Stoll said the company has been blessed to work with such a wide range of clients in Perham over the years "we really appreciate the faith all of these organizations have put in our business."

"I don't know very many communities our size that have such a wealth of progressive, positive and well respected companies," he said. "BHH is blessed to call most of these people our clients and our friends."

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