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Wow, did we have a great evening this past Saturday with the Bay Area Chamber Awards Banquet — Our Time to Shine! Wonderful food, unique entertainment featuring the BACC Breakers Troupe, and a variety of awards and recognitions which truly make this a community celebration.

Citizen of the Year is an honor given to a member of our community who, by consistently giving of their time, energy and resources, has made Oregon’s Bay Area a better place to live. For 2019 that award was given to Rachel Richardson. Rachel has made volunteer service a way of life. She is the youth leader at her church, volunteers at the Pelican Harbor Food Bank, is active in the Coquille Rotary, SCDC Executive Board and much, much more. Her positivity and willingness to jump in and help whenever she can to make a difference, with no other personal expectation of anything else, is incredible. She is a successful business person, but her main business is people and this community.

The Business of the Year award is given to a business that has exhibited excellence in products and customer service; contributed time, manpower and resources to community improvement projects; and excelled in employee relations and training. This year’s recipient has been one of the most respected names in U.S. flag marine cargo transportation for decades. Beginning in the 1930’s with one small wooden tug, they have grown to a fleet of over 60 modern, powerful tugs and barges. At the core of their growth and success is a commitment to customer service and dedication to community. The 2019 award went to Sause Bros. Inc., honoring their excellence in business and strong commitment to the community for over 80 years.

Chamber Member of the Year is given to that member, who through their efforts, has carried us to a new level of community service and impact. In 2019 we recognized two individuals. Michele Hampton has been chair of the Business Development and Retention team, with an active focus on relations with our cities, working connections with our business partners and striving to help create a business voice for Coos County through the local Chambers of Commerce. Additionally, she has served as Chamber treasurer for the past four years. Tom Burdett, although being Chamber president in 2018, is being honored for his amazing work as chair of the Legislative Action Team, which has actively worked the state legislature and issues locally to help create an economic climate that promotes business and community.

Additionally, Sharon Rogers, a music specialist at Hillcrest Elementary School, was recognized as Educator of the Year. University of Oregon student and North Bend High School graduate Ty Hampton received the 2019 Prefontaine Athlete Award. The school boards of Coos Bay and North Bend and Southwestern Oregon Community College were given the 2019 Community Award to honor a group of volunteers that continuously works toward a better future for our communities by equipping the next generation for success, sometimes in the face of tough odds. Their successes we and our children enjoy, for it sets the stage for a strong future in Oregon’s Bay Area.

Tood Goergen, owner of Boxcar Hill Campground, is the 2020 Bay Area Chamber of Commerce president. At the banquet, Goergen thanked outgoing president Clark Walworth for his dedication and leadership. Walworth was Master of Ceremonies for the event, which also featured humorous skits about local issues, performed by Tim Novotny, Aymee Pedder, Pam de Jong and Pam Plummer (and Timm Slater). Walworth's theme for the year was "Your Business is Our Business." This year's theme is "Our Time to Shine." 

What a great evening! See you at next year’s banquet on the last Saturday of January.

Remember, our business is helping your business. And like us on Facebook.

The Bay Area Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit, professional business organization made up of the Coos Bay, North Bend, and Charleston communities. The Chamber works for a healthy economic climate of good jobs, more customers and efficient government. The Chamber’s strength lies in the number and diversity of its membership. With over 530 members strong representing every aspect of this area’s economy, we use their vast collective experiences and energy to make a positive difference in our community.

Remember our business is helping your business. And like us on Facebook.

Timm Slater is executive director of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. For more information on your Chamber, email


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