About 200 people showed up Sunday, Feb. 23, to applaud the recipients of nine awards bestowed on members of the Wallowa County community at the 40th annual Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet at the Cloverleaf Hall in Enterprise.
Kellee Sheehy served as master of ceremonies for the gathering, explaining the Wizard of Oz theme of “there’s no place like home” as particularly appropriate to the county.
“We have everything we’ve always wanted here,” she said. “You don’t have to go somewhere … where there’s a Wal-Mart.”
Among the awards bestowed was the new Leader in Health Care award. The award was new this year, and honored three physicians for their roles in instigating, developing, providing high-quality health care in the county.
“Today, we have 18 physicians in the county,” presenter Mike Hayward said. “That’s largely because these physicians worked with OHSU to develop an intern program here years ago. There is no other rural community in Oregon with a better health care system, and these doctors were the founders of that excellence.”
The recipients and their years of service were Dr. Lowell Euhus, 1972 to 2005; Dr. Scott Siebe, 1981 to 2013; and Dr. R. Devee Boyd, 1989 to 2017.
Boyd also was the recipient of the 2019 President’s Award, sponsored by the chamber. In presenting the award, outgoing Chamber President Jessie Cunningham had numerous personal stories of Boyd’s effect on her life. Her doctor from the age of 5, she recalled him also serving as her basketball coach and that she needed his annual OK on physicals each year to play.
Cunningham went on to receive the Past President’s Award, sponsored by Community Bank.
Elwayne Henderson, of Henderson Logging in Wallowa, was named 2019 Business Leader of the Year, receiving the award sponsored by the Wallowa County Chieftain.
In nominating Henderson, Scott McCrae wrote that Henderson “is a lifetime resident of Wallowa who chose to stay in Wallowa to manage his business, while also being an advocate at the local, regional and national level.”
Ashley Immoos Christman was named Wallowa County Employee of the Year for 2019 and was presented the award by Commissioners Susan Roberts, Todd Nash and John Hillock. The award was sponsored by the chamber.
In nominating Christman, Roberts emphasized that Christman — who works in the Assessor’s Office — has gone far beyond her duties and proven willing to help out wherever she can. She also served temporarily as county treasurer — twice — when that post and that of assistant were vacant. Roberts told the crowd that in Christman’s mere six years working for the county, she has become familiar with many of the county jobs and thus has become a valuable employee. She also works as an EMS tech on the county ambulance and delivers meals and services to those in need.
Dan Butterfield, a founding member and current president of the Wallowa Lake Irrigation District, was presented with the 2019 Leader in Natural Resources Award by Joe Dawson of the irrigation district. That award was sponsored by Wallowa Resources.
In nominating Butterfield, Diane Daggett wrote that he was “pivotal in the idea of creating (an irrigation) district that would serve all irrigators from Wallowa Lake. …”
Jeff Costello, who has been instrumental in helping with the Wallowa Valley Arts Festival, was the recipient of the 2019 Leader in the Arts Award. Sponsored by the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture, it was presented by Cheryl Coughlan.
“He’s a smart guy, but also the nicest man — courteous, gracious and a very good soul,” Coughlan wrote in her nomination of Costello.
Audra Allen, of Wallowa, was the recipient of the 2019 Award as Leader in Events and in nonprofits. In presenting the award sponsored by Fishtrap, Linda Bauck told how Allen had lost her daughter to a tragic accident but that hadn’t stopped her from dedication to her community.
“Audra coordinates with community members, businesses, ODOT (the Oregon Department of Transportation), the Wallowa City Council and the Wallowa City Maintenance Crew” to make a number of civic improvements, including improving the Wallowa Memorial Park — which includes a memorial to Allen’s daughter, Bauck said.
Dave Cook, of Joseph, was the recipient of the 2019 Unsung Hero Award, sponsored by the Wallowa Valley Wellness Center.
It may have seemed appropriate that Cook was not on hand to receive the award, as he was off to Salt Lake City putting together disaster kits, said Peggy Lovegren, who nominated him.
Cloverleaf Hall proved a fitting venue for the evening, including its new sound system, donated to the Wallowa County fair board in memory of musician Henry Kinsley by his wife, Judy. Most participants are already looking forward to next year.