Retired banker and active community leader Doug Dearing will receive the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce during the organization’s Jan. 15 Installation Dinner & Awards Ceremony at the Pines Resort at Bass Lake.
In addition to Dearing, Steve Welch, owner-broker of Bass Lake Realty and general manager of the Bass Lake Water Co. will be honored as the chamber’s Man of the Year, and Donna Smith of Foster & Parker Insurance, will be honored as Woman of the Year.
The chamber also announced that Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply, owned by Colette Goga, is the 2015 Business of the Year.
* The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest possible honor the chamber may bestow and is presented to only those who have shown extraordinary contributions to the community thorough many years of service.
Doug Dearing retired in June of 2013 after a 44-year career in banking - 22 years as vice president/branch manager of Oakhurst’s Yosemite Bank. After his retirement, he served the bank an additional 18 months in community relations.
Well known throughout the Mountain Area, Dearing was named the 1994 Man of the Year by the chamber, and Yosemite Bank, under his leadership, was named Business of the Year for 1997. He received an Angel Amongst Us award in 2000 for his support of the community.
Dearing is past president of both the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club, and the chamber of commerce, and has been involved in the annual Rotary Crab Feed, and the Sunrise Rotary Club’s Cajun Fest. He was active in the establishment of the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst and the Education Enhancement Foundation.
It was Dearing who spearheaded the creation of Yosemite Bank scholarships for Yosemite and Minarets high school graduating seniors.
He represented Yosemite Bank as a chamber member from 1991 to 2014, was a chamber board member for many years and a past president.
“Doug has served our community in about every civic endeavor imaginable,” said Dan Rule, 2015 Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce president. “For more than 20 years he has tirelessly impacted our community by supporting our local service clubs and organizations. He has quietly advocated for our community’s social and economic wellbeing because he simply believed it was the right thing to do.”
“I was very surprised and taken back when notified I was selected for this award,” Dearing said. “I am very honored and appreciate this award very much.”
* Man of the Year: Steve Welch has been a resident of Bass Lake since 1974 when he moved from Camarillo to work at The Pines Resort, where he served as general manager and president for a combined 33 years.
Welch is a founding member of the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club (past president), the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce, and the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau.
* Woman of the Year: Donna Smith has lived in Oakhurst since the mid-80s, after relocating from Madera. She has served on the chamber board of directors for two years (secretary), and has been an active member of the chamber for 12 years.
Smith served as board president of the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst for eight years, and started, with others, the Christmas Tree auction that benefits the club and other non-profit organizations in the area. She remains an adviser for the club.
Smith is a member of the Oakhurst Sunrise Rotary Club, and the Yosemite Gateway Association of Realtors.
“This community is unbelievable,” Smith said. “The ongoing and generous support this community provides to the many non-profit organizations in the area is very special. I’m proud to do what I can to help, and I’m very honored by this recognition by the chamber of commerce.”
* Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply - Originally from Detroit, Colette Goga moved to Oakhurst in 2004 from Yosemite, and bought the business in 2007, after being the store manager for two years.
“I have a great staff that mirror by passion for animals, community service, and excellent customer service,” Goga said. “Oakhurst is incredible ... I had no idea what a hidden gem Oakhurst was before moving here ... I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful community.”
Goga has been a member of the chamber since 2007, and served on the board of directors for four years. She is the current president of the Sierra Historic Sites Association, is a member of the Heritage Days committee, participates in the Boys & Girls Club Christmas Tree Auction, and is a certified animal disaster rescue volunteer. In addition, she, along with store employees, pick up litter on a two mile stretch of Highway 49 as part of the California Keep Our Highways Beautiful program.
Goga said she does not do what she does for accolades.
“I do it because of my passion for animals and for the community,” Goga said. “Although I was shocked when I was notified of this award, I’m very honored by it.”
* Executive Director’s Award: The chamber award is going to Madera County Office of Emergency Services, Cal Fire Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, and Sierra National Forest Bass Lake Ranger District.
“The entire Eastern Madera County mountain community is invited to join the celebration and honor the 2015 award recipients, recognize the 2015 outgoing chamber board members and welcome the new incoming 2016 chamber officers and directors,” said chamber Executive Director Joelle Leder. “The Installation Dinner & Award Ceremony, established by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, has become an annual community tradition where friends, family, and neighbors recognize and honor their community heroes for their many years of selfless service to our community.”
The doors to the Lakeview Room at the Bass Lake Conference Center open at 6 p.m. for a reception, with dinner being served at 7. Cost of the dinner catered by Ducey’s On the Lake is $45 per person with the entree choice of filet mignon, seared organic chicken, or portobello stacker. Advanced reservations are required.
The Pines is offering dinner attendees a special room rate for the night.
Call the chamber for dinner reservations (Jan. 8 deadline), and special room rate code, (559) 683-7766. www.oakhurstchamber.com/installationdinner.