2023 Awards Night Nomination Information
The annual Santiam Awards Night is a community focused event where the North Santiam Chamber of Commerce recognizes those important persons and businesses that make our community a great place to live!
This years Awards will be presented on Wednesday, April 26th starting with a Meet & Greet from 6-6:30pm, with awards following in the Santiam High School Gym in Mill City. Nominations must be received by April 7th and can be submitted by clicking the links here, or email your nomination in to:
or go to our Facebook page
Here are a list of the categories:
Non-Profit of the Year: Do you know a non-profit organization that has affected your life? We’re looking for local outstanding community servers who are focused on helping !
Young Adult Citizen Award: Help us recognize a person between 18-35 who has substantially added to the community by helping with creating new ideas & participating with local efforts.
Business of the Year: Nominate your favorite business that has shown a history of excellent products and community involvement.
Citizen of the Year: Nominate the forever-young friends and neighbors who you’ve noticed making a difference around town. Anyone can win this one! Do they demonstrate outstanding community service? Tell us!
Canyon Beautification and Improvement Award: Designed to thank one of our local business OR property owners for their dedication to creating a more beautiful Santiam Canyon.
2021 Santiam Awards Night
Thank you also to the Anita Leach and Marion White families. We are proud to continue to recognize their cherished spirit of volunteerism. Co-recipients this year were:
2019 Awards Recipients
Odd Fellows Lodge wins Non-Profit of the Year
The North Santiam Chamber of Commerce Awards Night on April 24th set to recognize outstanding community leaders
The 2019 Santiam Awards Night is set for April 24th, you’re invited to help us celebrate the movers and shakers of our community! Hosted by the North Santiam Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Pacific Power, this annual event brings all ages together for a night of awards and music. This year, the performers from Santiam JR/SR High School Prep Band, Guitar Class and American Pop Culture Class will be hitting the stage to start off the night. After that, get ready for some great recognitions. Then, the proceeds from the Youth Benefit Golf Tournament will be awarded – that’s $24,450 in grants and scholarships for our local youth programs! It all happens on Wednesday, April 24th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at Santiam High School Auditorium at 265 SW Evergreen St., Mill City. We’ll have free cake from the Lovin’ Oven! Special guests for the evening include Alan Meyer from Pacific Power, State Representative Sherrie Sprenger, and the Marion County Commissioners: Colm Willis, Kevin Cameron and Sam Brentano.
Young Adult Citizen of the Year
Jessica Ritchie was chosen because she has served the community of Lyons through her volunteer efforts on Lyons City Council as a city councilor and Library commissioner. She is readily available to help with community issues. She is also a strong supporter of Mari-Linn School and has freely given of her time to help the youth in the local community.
Non-Profit of the Year
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows #144 was chosen because of their dedication to enriching the heart of the community by developing a non-profit center at 138 SE Broadway in Mill City, in addition to their other efforts. “In the 30 years of living in this area, we have not seen such an ambitious effort to build a community center and skate park, both of which have been so badly needed.” In partnership with several local groups, the volunteers at IOOF have created needed spaces and multiple fundraising opportunities for groups like KYAC Community Radio, Santiam Hearts 2 Arts, the Santiam Community Chorus, SKATE, the Gleaners, and others.
Citizen of the Year
Sam Kuenzi was chosen because of his overall enthusiasm for supporting the many events in the Santiam Canyon. He is a welcome addition at many fundraisers and is noted as a generous contributor through his business, Sam’s Chicken. His efforts include renovating his building on Hwy 22, leading to a better overall impression to travelers and those who live here.
Canyon Beautification and Improvement Award
Gates Post Office was chosen because of their exterior improvements on the Gates Post Office building, which now showcases a beautiful cedar roof and new painted exterior. For many years, the post office also hosted the Gates Christmas Lighting Contest and the Gates Christmas Coloring Contest, which was the local highlight for the holiday season. The post office serves as a local communications center, and also hosts a large display of parks and recreation information for travellers.
Business of the Year
Pacific Sanitation was chosen because they have donated many staff hours and multiple equipment pieces for both the Mill City Clean Up Day and Lyons Clean Up Day for many years. They have also generously provided a drop box for the Canyon Senior Center at a reduced cost for the center’s paper recycling project, as well as supported our community overall by contributing as a platinum level sponsor for the Santiam Canyon Youth Benefit Golf Tournament for more that ten years – including sponsoring two teams (8 players) for the event.
President’s Choice Award
Colby Lamb was chosen by President David Shelton because of his dedication to restoring the Niagra Water Wheel above Gates. The wheel is private property, yet Colby has taken the reins and recognized that it serves a public benefit as a hallmark to those who drive on Highway 22. He has spent many hours working to bring it back to working condition, and even installed festive lights for the holiday season.
Marion White Volunteerism Awards
The City of Mill City has two recipients for the 2019 Marion White Volunteerism Award.
The first goes to family of Wilma Shephard (right). Wilma served our community for over 60 years. She was deeply involved in her church, serving as treasurer, leading Vacation Bible School and lending a hand wherever one was needed: President and Treasurer of the Woman’s Club, Treasurer and volunteer with the North Santiam Historical Society and dedicated volunteer with the Mill City Library.
The second goes to family of Virgil Trout (left). Virgil gave to our community for over 40 years. He sat on the Board of the Mill City Volunteer Fire Department and in various capacities in the local Chapter of the Odd Fellows, as well as gave time to Meals on Wheels and was a staple in the Mill City 4th of July Celebration. He was probably most well known, however, for his willingness to do whatever he could for his fellow citizen, providing assistance to many over the years.
Santiam Elementary Educator of the Year
Angela Moreno was chosen because has been a wonderful leader in our school. She sets high expectations for her students, encourages success, and serves on our leadership team. She has helped to increase knowledge around Professional Learning Communities, serves as a mentor to newer teachers, and asks all the right questions. She brings a bit of herself to her classroom by sharing her love of recycling and the iditarod and bringing those experiences to her students.
Santiam Elementary Student of the Year
Eva Sloan was chosen because she is an outstanding student, friend and kid. Her attitude toward school and learning is felt by all in her class. She listens and thinks about topics that she is learning and is awesome about following directions. When working in groups or with partners she is welcoming, never making others feel out of place. She is a helper and guides others to learning their own way. Even though she may know the answers she is willing to let others “exercise their brain”. She is a hard worker and does the right thing. A model student and a 9 year old student she has a bright future full of success.
Santiam JR/SR High Student of the Year
Brittany Grenbemer was chosen because she is a 4.0 student and gives 110% to everything she does. She is a Distinguished Scholar and a member of Honor Society and will be attending the U of O this fall. Brittany is dedicated, dependable and a great role model at our school. She was elected to the Oregon Associated Student Council board during her junior year, and currently serves as the 2018-19 ASB president, and is responsible for all the events at the school. She is a 3 sport athlete and actively involved in Wyldlife and Young Life.
Santiam JR/SR High Educator of the Year
Amanda Fowler was chosen because she is kind, patient and willing to adapt. She goes out of her way to make changes to make sure that every student has what they need to be successful. She is a great team member with the staff, and continues to be creative while leading an amazing classroom for her students.
2018 Awards Recipients
The North Santiam Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the winners of the 2018 Santiam Awards! These local volunteers, businesses, students and teachers were recognized at the awards ceremony on April 25th from from 6pm-8pm at Santiam High School Auditorium, 265 SW Evergreen St., Mill City.
This event is sponsored by Pacific Power and guest presenter Alan Meyer from Pacific Power helped announce the following awards, with Chamber of Commerce President Dave Shelton. This event was free and open to the public.
Business of the Year: Rex Images Promotional Products.
The Chamber received several nominations to recognize Rex Images Promotional Products, and owners Rex and Angie Mittelstaedt, for their contributions to our area through their development of tourism related products, as well as promoting the team spirit of our local high school sports programs. They opened a successful retail location on Highway 22 that encourages visitors to showcase their love of the North Santiam Canyon and helps create a broader knowledge of our area tourism opportunities. Rex Mittelstaedt also serves as a dedicated volunteer member of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Non-Profit of the Year: Save Our Bridge.
As one of our nominators wrote: The Save Our Bridge (SOB) Committee is an ad hoc committee that has partnered with the City of Mill City to preserve the Historic Railroad Bridge.
The Committee was formed in 2014 by Chairperson, Lynda Harrington. The other members are: Denny Chamberlain, Dave Forward, John Gottfried, Dorothy Keasey, Anita Leach, Dave Leach, Roel Lundquist, and Frances Thomas. The goal was to have the bridge renovated in time for its Centennial Celebration in 2019. The nine members of the Save Our Bridge (SOB) Committee recognized that the bridge provides a connection to our community’s history and must be preserved for future generations. The scope of the project was overwhelming at first and it was a challenge just getting started, but the SOB’s kept at it. They gained momentum when an engineering study for the bridge was completed later in 2014. This gave them the data needed to set the fund raising target at $400,000. The City committed to half of the cost and the SOB Committee would raise the remaining funds. The SOB’s developed a strategy to reach their goal and proceeded to contact local businesses for financial donations and in-kind donations, individual donors, set up a “Go Fund Me” account on the City’s website, applied for grants, held fund raisers, participated in the 4th of July parade and sold tshirts, hats and note cards. The Committee provided regular updates to the City Council and received their approval for any major decisions that were made. They requested that Dave Kinney, Planning Adviser for Mill City, be involved to offer guidance to the group at the monthly meetings. In addition, Bob Hirte, Hamilton Construction Company provided technical advice. In 2017, Danielle Gonzalez, Management Analyst for Marion County, was invited to attend a SOB meeting. She said that her job with Marion County was to come up with new ideas and then find the money to make the ideas work. Ms. Gonzales advised the City that as a rural community, they were in a very good position to meet the requirements for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant…and she was right! According to the U.S. Department of Transportation website, “More than 64% of this round of TIGER funding was awarded to rural projects, a historic number that demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to supporting the country’s rural communities.” The money raised by the SOB committee made a huge difference and positioned the City to qualify for the $8.1 million that was requested for three projects, including the preservation of the Historic Railroad Bridge. The $400,000 that had been set aside demonstrated the community’s commitment and support for the project and also provided the matching funds that would be required. The application, submitted in October 2017, was a collaborative effort among Linn County, Marion County, the City of Mill City, and the SOB Committee. It also had the support from Oregon’s Congressmen, Kurt Schrader, and Peter DeFazio, along with Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. The TIGER grant funding means that now the City has the ability to complete these projects that had been on their wish list for years. The projects are improvements and reinforcement of the Green Bridge, improvements to SW Broadway Street along with the Pedestrian Trail and the Preservation of the Historic Railroad Bridge.
Young Adult Citizen of the Year: Elaina Turpin
As one of our nominators wrote: If there is a project going on around town Elaina is usually involved, either as a pioneer in getting it off the ground, like the PTO after the schools combined or the Neighborhood Watch Program that has done so much to improve public safety and community awareness in Mill City, or as a member of the planning group behind it. She is currently on the Reid House committee, was one of the early people who helped gather local leaders to meet on a monthly basis, and has volunteered to keep the high school’s robotics team up and running. What many people don’t know is that Elaina was also one of the three young professionals who helped GROW launch its Young Professionals group a few years ago, and has been an important part of the leadership teams for our Economic Vitality Summit in spring 2015 and our Rural Tourism Studio Accelerator training with Travel Oregon in spring 2016, and is a key member on our regional tourism marketing strategy team right now. She played an important role in River Fusion 22 last summer, our new award-winning regional outdoor recreation tourism showcase, and is part of the group planning for that event this year. Though Elaina could choose to live anywhere, she loves Mill City and values doing her part to help the community grow and prosper. She can think and act regionally when it’s needed, but her heart is really with Mill City, right down to the houseful of kids who routinely come to her house after school for a safe place to play and gather. She brings a level of enthusiasm and creativity to any group that is always welcome, often offers a perspective that other team members haven’t thought of, and volunteers her time with a cheerful heart and a great sense of humor.
Citizen of the Year: Anita Leach
Anita Leach is one of our area superstars. She received multiple nominations for this award. She is appreciated by many local non-profit groups for her cheerful willingness to always lend a hand to a good cause. She is an active volunteer with the Save Our Bridge efforts, the Youth Benefit Golf Tournament, the Santiam Canyon School District, and has even been seen getting down and dirty while cleaning and doing gardening work around town with the Canyon Catalysts. Her can-do attitude gets many projects done. She volunteers her time to share presentations of important causes and has served as a liaison between several groups.
Canyon Beautification and Improvement Award: Poppa Al’s Famous Hamburgers
Owners Kevin Muniz and Ellen Murphy received the most nominations that the Chamber has ever received during our Awards application process. They just kept rolling in for Poppa Al’s Famous Hamburgers! It’s obvious to see why. They have dedicated a huge amount of time and resources to increasing the visitor experience by improving foot paths, creating beautiful landscaping, adding picnic tables and more. One nominator said, “It is a pleasure to both eat outside, as well as look up and over from Wall Street and see the improvement.” Some appreciated the flowers, while others noted the increased ambiance that these improvements lend, and how well that reflects on the area as a whole.
President’s Choice Award: Sherri Gust-Cardwell
One nominator wrote, “Since moving to our community a few years ago, Sherri has run her own business in her home, plus engaged in many community activities as a volunteer: 1) She joined the Eagles and immediately began cooking, soliciting donations for auctions, and organizing fund raisers, such as Hot August Nights for 4 years, to get school supplies for students in Mill City, for Brett Katlong fundraiser, for Hearts2Arts/KYAC fundraiser in 2016, and most recently the fundraiser for SKATE. She has held an office in the Eagles, and is now Vice President. 2) She joined the Santiam Canyon Community Chorus and soon became a board member of Hearts2Arts and a Chorus Council member. For this organization she also planned and solicited donations for past performances, including our Christmas in the Canyon show, our Disney in the Canyon show and is now working on the show featuring Broadway Musicals. 3) She quickly joined SKATE, as she was aware her 2 grandsons needed activities in Mill City to keep them safe and occupied. She is Vice President, has helped for 4 years at the July 4th celebration, garage sales and all functions where SKATE raises donations and contributions. 4) Sherri is on the committee for the River City Jamboree Festival held last August, in charge of the entertainment and band performances on behalf of Hearts2Arts and the Community Chorus and is repeating this role for this coming August. She had a role in SKATE for the Eclipse event. To sum up her commitment to the community, she is dedicated to fun raising for organizations where the money stays in our community. As one who helps her in these activities, I am impressed with her dedication, hard work and passion for community outreach.
Marion White Volunteerism Award
This award is presented by the City of Mill City. They wrote, “The 2018 Marion White Volunteerism Award recipient has served our community for many years. Service includes assisting with setting up the Santiam Elementary playground, Quinn scholarship, Santiam Scholarship banquet, upgrades to the Santiam football field and track and much more. His focus is serving our youth and ensuring they have great school careers at Santiam. He has secured immeasurable donations of labor and materials for upgrades to our district athletic fields and can be found, on any given day, working behind the scenes to see these projects to completion.
The North Santiam Chamber of Commerce volunteer Board of Directors wanted to recognize the many educators and students that contribute to our community. As such, they expanded this award category to include all of the schools in the upper North Santiam Canyon that serve our residents. The following recipients were chosen by their schools administration for their dedication to teaching, learning and being outstanding representatives of our community.
Santiam Elementary School
Educator of the Year: Stephanie Grenbemer
Student of the Year: Obree Noggle
Santiam JR/SR High School
Educator of the Year: Danley Phillips
Student/Youth of the Year: Joshua Fawcett (tie)
Student/Youth of the Year: Colin Thurston (tie)
Oregon Connections Academy
Educator of the Year: Brittany Zahler
Student of the Year: Garrett Kincaid
Mari-Linn Elementary School
Educator of the Year: Clastine Ritchie
Student of the Year: Kody Martinmaas
2017 Awards Recipients
The 2017 winners include The Cedar Bunkhouse for the Community Improvement and Beautification Award, the Young Adult Citizen of the Year Award was given to Amber Tinney, eNRG Kayaking was awarded the Business of the Year, the Mill City Gates Community Assistance Center was awarded for Non-Profit of the Year, Jack Goodell was awarded as Citizen of the Year, the Marion White Volunteerism Award went to Caroline Gillaspy, and the President’s Choice Award went to the Marion County Commissioners.