Above And Beyond

Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce announces Citizen of the Year and other honorees for 2022 during Awards Gala on Friday at Kirtland Community College
Voters selected a local fire department, restaurant, art gallery, newspaper, and two community event organizers to receive honors during the 2022 Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala, an event held at Kirtland Community College on Friday, March 10.
The Chamber of Commerce conducted the voting process online and voters selected the final winners from lists of nominees.
The list of honors announced during Friday’s Awards Gala included the Kirk Wakefield Service Person of the Year Award, the You Made It Happen Award, the Chamber Member Organization of the Year Award, the Longevity Award, the Chamber Member Business of the Year Award, and the Citizen of the Year Award.
The You Made It Happen Award is “given to a person, business, or organization who, through exceptional contributions and/or commitment, positively affected the growth of the Grayling/Crawford County community over the past year by implementing one specific event, service, project or idea,” according to the chamber. 
Nominees were: AuSable Valley Animal Shelter; Patty Crandall; Coffee by Steph; Grayling Junior Vikings Board Members; Carey Jansen, Bill Romzick, and Wayne Koppa; Jomarie Leone; Julie McClain; Tip’n the Mitten; Two River Deli.
Crandall was the winner.
“Patty worked relentlessly with her team to organize the free community Thanksgiving which took place this year between Camp Grayling and the Grayling High School.  She received donations from individuals and businesses for the food and supplies to keep this a free event for the community and those in need. This committee, led by Patty Crandall for the last 11 years, along with volunteers from our community, fed almost 1,000 citizens over Thanksgiving. Most of these volunteers have been putting on this event for over 20 years. This was the event’s 32nd annual year,” according to nomination information.
The Chamber Member Organization of the Year Award goes to a group “that has exemplified excellence in service work throughout the past year. For showing generosity by giving time, money, staff/volunteers, facilities, among other things, for community benefit, setting an example for other organizations in the community, supporting the chamber, and being a leader in the organization as well as the community. Must be a current chamber member as of 2022,” according to the chamber.
The four nominees: AuSable Artisan Village, Camp Grayling JMTC, Room Redux Northern Michigan, USO (United Service Organization).
The winner was the AuSable Artisan Village.
“Formed as a non-profit organization, the AuSable Artisan Village has developed a successful art gallery in downtown Grayling, which provides a hub for residents and visitors to view and purchase art, as well as to participate in art education and attend a variety of musical and theatrical performances throughout the year. All of this is done with a very talented, dedicated, and largely volunteer base. AuSable Artisan Village has become an important outlet for over 50 artists, many of whom are local, to display and sell their art as well as being a destination for visitors from nearly every state in the US and some foreign countries every year. Despite limited capacity in their performing arts venue, the AuSable Artisan Village brings over 1,500 patrons downtown throughout the year,” according to the nomination.
The Longevity Award goes to “a business that has withstood the test of time, has sincere relationships with their employees and their customers, has helped make an economic impact in Crawford County, and continues to help our community thrive. Must be a current Chamber Member as of 2022.”
The nominees were: A+ Lawn Care, Crawford County Avalanche, Kirtland Community College, Northstar Autowash.
The Crawford County Avalanche was the winner.
“The Avalanche has been the voice of the community since 1879. The paper strives to be a constant supporter and inspiration to the community, businesses, and the people who serve the community. The staff is highly motivated to support, uplift, and inform the local area on all things relevant to Crawford County. The paper itself has subscribers throughout the country and helps to attract visitors to the area through stories and advertisements. The newspaper website is viewed around the world. The paper is also responsible for printing the local visitor guides that are distributed throughout the state, which help bring tourists to the area and help with the economy,” according to the nomination.
The Kirk Wakefield Service Person of the Year Award “was inspired by the 2018 recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award, the late Kirk Wakefield. This award may be given to someone whose contributions and/or commitment of service as military or first responders has made a positive impact on the Grayling/Crawford County community over the past year. This award recognizes those who continue to put their lives on the line for the safety of others in our community/country,” according to the chamber.
The nominees for 2022 were: Arthur “Artie” Clough, Frederic Fire & EMS, Ryan Finstrom, Garrett Joles, Chase Lohr, Doug Pratt, Rick Rawlings, and Dana Swander.
The winner was Frederic Fire & EMS.
“Each member of the Frederic Fire and EMS Team is committed to keeping Crawford County safe and provide the best possible service when called upon. They inform and educate the community by keeping their Facebook page up to date with the latest developments, inclement weather conditions, and share several safety tips throughout the year. Their Safe Baby Program has been a great success. They are present for most of the sporting and community events that take place throughout the county, as well as being involved with the schools teaching children about fire safety. Their commitment to keeping Crawford County safe is topnotch,” according to the nomination.
The Chamber Member Business of the Year “exemplifies exceptional customer service, generosity, giving of their time, money, staff, and/or facilities for community benefit, or has implemented new construction or renovation projects that serve as an investment or as an enhancement to Crawford County over the course of the past year. To the business that is an example to other businesses in the community, one who supports the chamber, and who has been a leader in their industry and in the community as a whole. Must be a current Chamber Member as of 2022,” according to the chamber.
There were 15 nominees for the 2022 Chamber Member Business of the Year Award: A+ Lawn Care, BJ’s Catering, Coffee By Steph, Gray Rock Pub & Grub (Michelle & Kyle Bond), Michigan Brew, Mi Mobile, Northstar Autowash, Paddle Hard Brewing, Q100 Radio, The Curator, The Medicine Shoppe, Tip’n the Mitten, Thompson & Treusch Law Office, Twisted Scissors, White Pine & Petals.
Michigan Brew won the award.
“The staff at Michigan Brew are always wonderful, present, kind, and really try hard to keep the business looking clean. Different organizations go to Michigan Brew for meetings, and they are very accommodating. Michigan Brew has fantastic food, good prices, and the business is exceptional. The business owner Matthew has helped with numerous Main Street or Chamber of Commerce hosted events over the years. He has invested over $750,000 into the project and used local contractors within the community and genuinely wants to see Grayling grow. This has brought life back into Grayling’s downtown 100 block,” according to the nomination.
The Citizen of the Year Award goes to “the person who has given of themselves to make Crawford County a ‘great place to live.’  The Citizen of the Year is one of the highest honors bestowed by the chamber. The person, who goes above and beyond the call of duty, is always there when someone needs a hand, and who has contributed to make Crawford County a special place. The purpose of the Citizen of the Year Award is to recognize those who contribute and give back to their community. The nominee may be recognized for contributions made during the previous year or over the course of a lifetime,” according to the chamber.
Ten people were nominated for the 2022 Citizen of the Year Award: Jenna Bauer, Heather Forbes, Steve Koch, Matt LaFontaine, Shawn M. Kraycs, Terri Lockwood, Julie McClain, Maze Stephan, Jason Thompson, Jillian Tremonti.
McClain was the winner.
“Julie has put her heart and soul into the Toys for Tots program and has brought it to be the best it’s been in years. She and her helpers have turned this project into a huge asset for the children of our town. Julie is the coordinator for the Toys for Tots campaign here in Crawford County that makes sure that every child has a Christmas. This year over 400 children received toys for Christmas. Julie volunteers many hours for our community. She goes above and beyond to get ready for Toys for Tots for the children of Grayling all year. Julie has made such a difference in so many lives in this community. She has worked so hard these past few years volunteering for Toys for Tots and then ultimately heading it up for Crawford County the last couple of years. She truly puts everything into it even while continuing to volunteer at the Christian Help Center Food Pantry. She volunteers her time year-round to help Grayling as a whole. Julie is always looking for ways to help others, she is so giving of herself and her time, she is always friendly, she spends so much time giving back, this would be such an honor for her. Her selfless acts are admirable,” according to the nomination.
According to the chamber, award sponsors included Air Way Automation, Arauco, Hart Dealerships, Matt LaFontaine Automotive, North Central Area Credit Union, and Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails. Other sponsors included BJ’s Catering (provisions), Flowers By Josie (floral), Kirtland Community College (host), Grayling Promotional Association (entertainment), A+ Lawn Care (hospitality), Grayling Restaurant (hospitality), and North Central Michigan Community Foundation (hospitality).
The 2022 Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala also featured a silent auction and a 50/50 drawing.
Hayley Strohpaul, Grayling Chamber Executive Director, said the event overall featured high numbers of nominations and good turnout for the Awards Gala. 
“We would like to just say a big thank you to our chamber members and the community for their continued support of the event,” Strohpaul said. “The Awards Gala of 2022 was one for the record book. This year we received double the nominations as well as double the amount of attendees at the event. It was incredible to see the businesses and community participate and show up to the event and have fun celebrating each other. Congratulations to all of the nominees and the award winners. We are already looking forward to next year’s Gala and celebrating more of our community’s accomplishments.”

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806
E-Mail: information@crawfordcountyavalanche.com

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