3 honored by Commerce for outstanding community service
Three of Stillwater County’s best and brightest were honored for their work at the annual Stillwater County Chamber of Commerce awards dinner held last week.
Absarokee dominated the night with all three award recipients hailing from the south county — Youth Volunteer of the Year was Chloe Flynn, Volunteer of the Year was Gary Race and Business Person of the Year was Rick Young.
BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR
“I’m humbled,” said Young in accepting the award, noting that he was pleased to have his wife of “42-something years” as a business partner.
His family, Young said, is his business, with his sons, grandsons and daughters-in-law all taking part in Rick Young & Sons Auctioneers.
“We are truly a family business,” said Young.
In operation since 1977, the business auctions farm, ranch, real estate, antiques, household and livestock. The business uses state-of-art computer clerking and also offers free consultation and complete auction set-up services. It even has its own radio program weekday mornings on 790 AM KGHL.
Young is a former Stillwater County Commissioner, a past board member of Beartooth Stock Growers Association also served on the Hard Rock Mining Board, which played a major role in the logistics of the opening of the Stillwater Mine, according to a nomination letter from the Stillwater Republican Women.
For the past 26 years, Young has served as the auctioneer for the Absarokee Quick Draw event, which raises thousands of dollars for scholarships. Young also volunteers his auctioneering skills for the 4-H and FFA Fat Stock sale, Fishtail Family Fun Days, the Stillwater Youth Center and the Stillwater Republican Central Committee - Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.
“A showman for sure, he would educate the bidders that these pies are priceless and he would let you know if you were bidding too much,” according to the nomination letter written by Shirlee Keffer.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Most of Gary Race’s life has been about serving others.
A retired United States Army major who served two tours in Vietnam, Race is the recipient of a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star, according to a nomination letter from Kim Kynast.
Upon learning that several families in Absarokee, Fishtail and Nye were in need of food bank services but were unable to drive to Project Hope in Columbus, Race and his wife, Joyce, established the Absarokee Area Food Bank, which is intended to compliment Project Hope’s mission. The Races, along with volunteers, collect donations and deliver food boxes to 17 families every month.
Race has also served as commander of the Absarokee VFW post, and has been recognized for his success in increasing membership in a post that was on the verge of closing. He was designated as All State Commander for Montana at the National VFW convention in recognition of his leadership. Race has also coordinated events for Operation 2nd Chance and has been involved with the Carbon-Stillwater Yellow Ribbon Community.
Also in his community service background is staffing the “Cobblestone Youth Nights” for junior and senior high kids after home sports games. Last summer, Race replaced several white crosses along Nye Road in Fishtail that had been damaged or were missing and is currently taking donations for the Montana Fire Relief Fund. Race also serves on the mission committee for the Absarokee Community Congregational Church.
“You don’t know…(stopping to pause) how humbling this is,” said Race at last week’s dinner.
YOUTH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Absarokee High School junior Chloe Flynn holds a 3.9 GPA and is active in the National Honor Society, Business Professionals of America, FCCLA, Honor Band, swing choir, golf and mentors younger students, according to a nomination letter from AHS teacher Jodi Heard.
Outside of school, Flynn has taken part in highway cleanups, Earth Day, peer mentoring, trick-or-treating so kids can eat, the Cobblestone Farmer’s Market, the Cobblestone Craft Fair, coat drive, and serving at the Quick Draw.
“Because of her dedication and motivation, Chloe has become a leader at Absarokee High School. She is a dependable individual and has been a real asset to the Absarokee School District and the community,” wrote Heard in the nomination letter.
At the awards dinner last week, Flynn made one short statement.
“Service is not about recognition. It’s about leaving the community better than what it was before,” said Flynn.