Three honored for community contributions at Chamber dinner
Ron Walker runs the world’s second largest manufacturer of theater pyrotechnics businesses in the world.
But being recognized as the Stillwater County Business Person of the Year was something he described as “overwhelming.”
“To know that you feel we are a positive part of this community is overwhelming,” said Walker last Thursday night at the annual Chamber of Commerce awards dinner. “It’s really touching.”
Walker’s business – NextFX – has been operating from the Columbus area since 2001. He and his wife, Kim, moved from St. Louis, Miss., mainly due to the positive effects of low humidity on the chemicals used in the business. (The chemicals remain unchanged from the beginning of the production process to the end, making the shelf life of products virtually unlimited with proper storage).
The couple now employs 45 full-time workers and an internal client list that includes concert tours, professional sports, commercials and even the Department of Defense. The company also stays plugged into the community, often donating for fireworks shows and other events. Walker also noted how the local business community had embraced the entire the family.
“We will always be here for you guys too,” said Walker.
More than 80 people attended the awards dinner at the Anipro Arena just outside of Absarokee. Uncle Sam’s catered the event, music was provided by Versa Tunes and county commissioner-elect Mark Crago was the guest speaker. Other awards included the following:
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Marissa Hauge’s life is about helping everyone she can for the betterment of the community.
“My parents taught me to leave things better than you find them,” said Hauge at the dinner last Thursday night.
And it’s a lesson she clearly took to heart.
In addition to her full-time job as Stillwater County’s economic development coordinator, Hauge has poured her time, expertise and passion into numerous non-profit organizations including the Columbus Community Foundation, Kruizin’ 4 Seniors and Stillwater Legacy Trails.
Hauge was nominated for the award by the Columbus Community Foundation Board of Directors and was introduced at the dinner by board member Melissa Kramer.
In demonstrating Hauge’s commitment and drive to whatever she is doing, Kramer relayed the story of the national MTGives Give Local Day event that took place earlier this year. It was a 24-hour online event in which people could go to a website and donate money to a non-profit group. Ten Stillwater County businesses took part and all received Hauge’s help in developing marketing campaigns.
Even more importantly, when the national server crashed just hours into the event, Hauge immediately spread the word that donations could be made at a donor’s lounge set up at the Stillwater Youth Center.
“Because of Marissa’s quick changes to the game plan, the community of Columbus rose to the top of the MTGives,” Kramer said in her introduction. “In the 24-hour day process, the MTGives raised over $73,000 across the state of Montana. The Community of Columbus raised over $25,000 of that.”
YOUTH OF THE YEAR
Absarokee High School senior Katrina Feddes was recognized as the Youth of the Year for her academic, athletic and community involvement. In addition to maintaining a 3.6 grade point average, Feddes competes in several varsity sports, band, FFA and is a member of the National Honor Society.
She also is in the school’s mentoring program and participates in everything from suicide awareness activities to highway clean-ups to Earth Day activities.
“We don’t see her a lot,” said her mother, Meredith Feddes, who accepted the award for her daughter. “But she wouldn’t have it any other way.”