The best in Sylvan Lake’s business community were honoured during the gala 35th annual Mermaid Ball last Friday night at the community centre.
Organized by Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce, the event attracted over 230 people who enjoyed a sumptuous meal by Bob Ronnie Catering before speeches from dignitaries and award presentations began. The evening’s MC was Greg Shannon of KG Country 95.5 Radio.
MLA Kerry Towle thanked businesses which are “the backbone of our communities”.
“Small businesses are the hearts of our communities,” she said. “They give our communities opportunities to grow.”
“We’re here to celebrate a year of excellence in business,” said Mayor Sean McIntyre. “To celebrate local businesses that are an integral part of our community.”
Chamber President Dwayne Stoesz said his past year leading the organization has been very rewarding. The chamber is 165 members strong and continues to grow.
He talked about what the chamber means to the community. “It means support, supporting local business … supporting shop locally initiatives, supporting leaders, supporting members.”
One of their goals is to make Sylvan Lake the most desirable place to live, work and play.
Sylvan Lake area residents nominated people and businesses in a variety of categories for the awards and then a panel of anonymous judges determined the worthy recipients.
Nominees were announced and then winners were presented with plaques on stage in front of a beautiful mural created by Mary Grace, Jennifer, Virginia-lynn and Sylvan Lake Youth Centre members and leaders.
Employee of the Year honours went to Leah McIntyre of Sylvan Agencies Insurance.
The Excellence in Customer Service Award was presented to Strategis Group Accounting.
Lani Rouillard was winner of the Cheryl Darling Memorial Award for an outstanding business woman who has made an impact in the community.
Brenda Dale was named Rotary Citizen of the Year.
Business of the Year honours went to Canadian Tire Sylvan Lake.
Recognizing the town’s Centennial, a special presentation was made to CIBC as the oldest business in Sylvan Lake still operating.
Judy Herder, Citizen of the Year in both 1986 and 2006 was recognized for all her hard work and efforts. She regaled the audience with stories of coming to Sylvan Lake as a blushing bride, a city girl coming here to a little hick town. “I learned how to milk cows, learned how to fence, then found I was more a PR person.”
She talked about having a television show for nine years that was filmed at the community centre. “It was a lot of fun, we were up on all the things going on in Sylvan Lake.”
“You have a food bank here now because of my interest,” she said.
Herder added, “You get out of life what you put into it. All of us put a lot into Care and Share.” It operated for 28 years and did a lot of good, helping many people, she remembered.
A dance followed the awards presentations. The evening, a fundraising event for the chamber, also included a silent auction.
(More detailed information about nominees and award winners is included in separate stories elsewhere in today’s paper and online.)