The awards will be presented at the Chamber’s inaugural Winter Gala Community Award Celebration on Friday, Feb. 10 from 5:30 – 11 p.m. at the Water Street Inn.
The Winter Gala Community Awards Celebration is open to the public – a $75 ticket includes a multi-course dinner, party favors, silent auction and raffle, live entertainment, awards ceremony and a tour of the Ice Castles.
“We are very excited about this first annual inaugural event,” Chamber Director Robin Anthony said. “We are focused on bridging business and community, and one of the many ways we are accomplishing this is by honoring those people and organizations who make our community a great place to live, work and thrive.”
Without further ado, here is a look at the 2017 Winter Gala Award winners:
- Chamber Ambassador of the Year: John Ostrowski, Ostrowski Insurance
- Educator of the Year: Sister Mary Juliana Cox, St. Croix Catholic School
- Nonprofit of the Year: Youth Service Bureau
- Community Volunteer of the Year: Cory Buettner, Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop
- Hero of the Year: Officer Quinn Willmarth, Bayport Police Department
- Small Business of the Year: Special Products
- Large Business of the Year: Lift Bridge Brewing Co.
The Chamber received more than 50 nominations in seven categories for the awards, Anthony said. The selection process included a panel of city volunteers who reviewed all the applications, and chose winners based on a point system.
“The panel assured me, the selection process was a difficult one,” she said. “Everyone who was nominated has an impactful story.”
One of the award winners with an impactful story is Bayport Police Officer Quinn Willmarth.
Willmarch has been a Bayport police officer for 18 years — and was recognized for his role in helping save the life of a Stillwater man in March 2015.
Officer Willmarth assisted Stillwater police on a call for a suicidal man who was threatening to kill himself with a gun, according to police reports. The man was known to police, and was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the time he served in the Armed Forces.
When Stillwater police arrived, officers were met with hostility, according to police reports. The man hung up the phone, and refused to speak with officers until Willmarth, who served in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Desert Storm, arrived.
“Having proudly served in the United States Marine Corps, you were able to bridge the gap with the male that other officers were not able to achieve,” Bayport Sgt. Jay Jackson wrote in a letter of appreciation. “You were able to get the male to not only engage in a conversation, but eventually exit the house without incident.”
The man agreed to be transported to the Veteran’s Hospital for help.
“It was your understanding and compassion toward veterans, and the struggles they face, that gave you the tools to de-escalate the situation,” Jackson wrote. “You have sought out training to give you a greater understanding of the best philosophies for dealing with veterans in crisis. Your own experience, along with your interest in Veterans in Crisis training, is what allowed you to resolve this incident.”
Officer Willmarth will be honored as Hero of the Year at the Winter Gala Community Awards.