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A star-studded night of awards

By Staff | Jan 24, 2011

Mayor Rob Hammond, Jr., receives the 2010 Community Service Award from his presenter, Gary Armon.

Right on schedule with awards season, the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce brought the “GG Awards” to town last Monday, honoring deserving businesses in a variety of categories.

No, “GG” doesn’t stand for Golden Globes, but the small-town celebration definitely mimicked that of a high-class, star-studded event.

The awards were the main feature of the Chamber’s 70th annual banquet and meeting.

With music building up the anticipation of the start of the show, hosts Tom Juba and Kathy Johnson made their grand entrance and took to the mic.

The hilarious duo led the awards ceremony — introducing presenters, congratulating winners and entertaining the crowd.

Terry Hanson (left) of Hanson Auto poses with Tom Miller after Miller presented him with the 2010 Business of the Year Award at the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet Monday, Jan. 17.

“GGs” — which are small statues of the Green Giant hand-carved by Bruce Ankeny — were given to eight different businesses.

Breen’s Hardware walked away with an award for customer service and Juba’s SuperValu won in the innovative marketing category for “Juba’s Jabber.”

O/NE Realty was honored with a win in the brand recognition category, BEVCOMM had best web design and KBEW won for its social media networking.

Picking up the Donald Deskey award, which recognized the best curb appeal, was Gartzke’s Greenhouse.

In the final two categories, the St. Luke’s Reflector won best newsletter and Dikken Furniture and Decorating’s “Home for the Holidays” earned a “GG” for best special event.

Dr. Jerry Thoreson was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his 54 1/2 years dedicated to providing dentistry to Blue Earth. Thoreson retired from the profession last month.

The “GG Awards” were brand new to the Chamber’s banquet this year, but two very notable honors have been part of the annual event much longer.

Each year, the chamber names a local establishment the Business of the Year and presents a citizen with the Community Service Award.

Terry Hanson was on hand to accept the Business of the Year award for Hanson Auto, and it was presented to him by his past employer, Tom Miller.

“We are very fortunate in a town our size to have the facility that Terry has in Hanson Auto,” Miller said in his introduction.

Hanson kept his speech short.

“We look forward to the future and…,” he said, then paused. “Oh, I’m not good at speeches.”

Quickly wrapping up his time in the spotlight, Hanson headed back to his seat and the crowd immediately stood in applause, thanking him for 17 years of service to the Blue Earth area.

The 2010 Community Service Award recipient, mayor Rob Hammond, Jr., was also given a standing ovation, but not before getting a long, revealing introduction from his friend Gary Armon.

Armon told of Hammond’s accomplishments, his honest demeanor and his positive attitude, but it wouldn’t be a proper introduction of a friend without some light banter.

So Armon made sure to throw in some teasing, and take a stab at Hammond’s lack of housekeeping skills. But he returned to a serious tone by the end of his introduction, and finished with sincere appreciation.

“Your service as mayor has been simply outstanding these past 12 years,” Armon said.

With his parents — Bob and Helene — and sister in attendance, Hammond accepted the Community Service Award, but explained that he’s typically more comfortable thanking other community members for their help, rather than being honored for something himself.

“I feel a little awkward receiving this,” Hammond said. “As much as I appreciate the award, a little bit of this award is for all of you.”

Also at the event, the chamber held its annual meeting, and past chair David Frundt handed over the reins to Michele Hard for 2011.

Other community members on the board of directors for the coming year are Jean Dikken, Holly Covington, Tom Juba, David Lein, Mark Maher, Denny McTamaney and Amy Schonborn.