Victor Weitzel and Laura Norman will be honored Jan. 20 by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce as the 2016 Man and Woman of the Year, and Ron Colgate will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Weitzel, Norman and Colgate will be honored during the chamber’s 2017 Installation Dinner and Awards Ceremony at 6 p.m., Jan. 20 at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp.
Oakhurst’s Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, owned by Brandon and Jessica Steele, has been named Business of the Year for 2016.
Weitzel Oakhurst resident since 2000
Weitzel moved to Oakhurst in 2000 to open Idea Print Work Inc., which he owned and operated through September 2016. It was his second print shop location - the first being in Newport, Oregon, opened in 1992.
He is past president of the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club (2006-07), a club he has been a member of for the past 15 years and has been a member of the chamber board of directors since 2004.
Weitzel helped start the Rotary Santa program in 2003 and this was the 14th year the program has given to families in need in the community. This Christmas, the program raised $3,800 in cash plus $750 worth of in-kind donations including toys and socks, helping 35 families and nearly 90 children.
Overall the program has raised more than $44,000 for area families since the program began. Each year the Christmas Tree Auction Rotary tree or wreath is donated to Rotary Santa plus donations from the community, mostly from Oakhurst Sierra Noon Rotary.
Weitzel also helped start the “Evening at Erna’s” event when he was Rotary president, volunteered many years for the annual Rotary Crab Feed, firewood project, poker tournament, golf tournaments and Oakhurst Community Center Rib Fest.
Through his business he has donated and given discounts to many in the Oakhurst area including service clubs, churches, schools, youth groups, the Yosemite High auto shop and first responders.
He has also served on the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst’s board of directors since 2003, and has served on the Rotary District Governor Selection Committee.
This is not the first time a chamber has named Weitzel Man of the Year. The Newport chamber of Commerce named him their Man of the Year in 1996. He was responsible, as a volunteer, for helping the Newport Chamber raise $52,000. He worked as a volunteer for the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival for 11 years and served as the event’s chairman in 1999.
He was also a member of the Newport Rotary club, serving as president in 1997.
Norman has been active in community for many years
The chamber’s selection for 2016 Woman of the Year is Laura Norman.
Norman started her career at Sierra Telephone in 2001 as an account executive with Sierra Tel Internet and is currently the company’s public relations supervisor.
Two of her favorite community events that she works on are Patriot Day and the Yosemite High School Pitman Awards, both made possible by Sierra Tel.
Norman is founder and chairperson of the Eastern Madera-Mariposa Counties Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), is lead dispatcher for the Disaster Action Team, and participates on the chamber’s Emergency Preparedness Committee.
She also works on a number of Sierra Tel projects and events including the Community Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.
Norman, who is a past recipient of a Soroptimist Woman of Distinction award, also volunteers for the Christmas Tree Auction, the Oakhurst Fall Festival, the Oakhurst Community Park Elegant Auction, American Red Cross, and serves as treasurer of the Smokey Bear Run.
Heavily involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America, she serves as Secretary of the Yosemite FFA Boosters, Madera District Fair clerk of the meat goat show, tabulator for the Livestock Judging Contest, takes care of registration for the Junior Livestock Auction, as well as serving as the sheep and goat clerk for the Chowchilla Madera County Fair Junior Livestock Auction.
She is the Madera County 4-H Leader and coach for showing sheep and meat goats statewide. She also is the Webmaster for the California Junior Livestock Association, Pacific Showcase magazine and White Rail Ranch.
Colgate 40 year resident of Mountain Area
Ron Colgate, a former chamber Volunteer of the Year and Angels Amongst Us award winner, will be honored at the Jan. 20 dinner with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award is presented only to those who have shown extraordinary contributions to the community thorough many years of service.
His involvement in the community started in 1976, and 40 years later, at 83 years old, he continues to volunteer. He was employed by Sierra Telephone from 1977 to 2010, when he retired as as supervisor of building maintenance.
Many of his community services were facilitated by the generosity of Harry Baker, who provided the time and support for Colgate to provides hundreds of volunteer hours for a number of community events including helping install the first play equipment at the Oakhurst Community Park and volunteering his time for the Christmas Tree Auction, Community Tree Lighting, Elegant Auction to benefit the park, Boys & Girls Club, River Parkway, Children’s Museum, Oakhurst Branch Library, Mountaineer Days and Heritage Days, Chocolate and Fall Festivals, Jazz Festival and Showcase of Schools. Colgate has also volunteered at the Visitors Bureau.
Colgate is known for being a quiet and humble behind-the-scenes supporter of all chamber and community events.
Colgate’s wife Sherry retired from Sierra Tel in 2011 after a 34-year career.
“We have been married 55 years and throughout those years Ron has never once uttered a curse word or lashed out in anger,” Sherry said.
Prior to relocating to Oakhurst, Colgate worked for the City of San Mateo for 14 years, and was responsible for city lighting and signalized intersections.
The couple have four children and eight grandchildren.
Steeles opened Grocery Outlet in 2013
Grocery Outlet has been named the chamber’s 2016 Business of the Year.
Brandon and Jessica Steele moved to Oakhurst from Lake County in 2013 to convert the 18,000 square-foot Sierra Lanes building at 40301 Junction Drive to a new Grocery Outlet store. It didn’t take them long to immerse themselves in the community.
“We always wanted to to own and operate a store in a small town and create the opportunity to have an impact on the community,” said Brandon. “When we first visited Oakhurst I remember looking at Jessica and saying ‘this is it.’ We are incredibly blessed to own and operate a store in the Mountain Area and can not imagine being anywhere else with our family.”
The couple are members of the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst Christmas Tree Auction Committee, sit on the Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), have provided thousands of dollars worth of groceries year-round for Manna House, provide discounts to all first responders as a thank you for what they do for the community, and have donated to many other area non-profits.
Their Healthy Eating Program provides free fruit to children 12 years old and younger.
At Christmas time, elves set up a table in the front of the store with official North Pole letterhead, and envelopes and stamps for children to write a letter to Santa. Every child then receives a personalized letter to their house from Santa.
The store also sponsors a Yosemite High “Athlete of the Month,” and are currently working on bringing back the community Easter Egg Hunt in 2017.
The Steeles have three children; Mckenna, 7, Ryder, 5, and Barrett, 2.
Executive Director Award
Carrie Proctor will receive the chamber’s Executive Director Award during the dinner.
The Oakhurst resident attended Clovis High School and Reedley Community College with a focus on biology. She has spent the last 15 years in healthcare working for Valley Children's Hospital and Oakhurst Healthcare & Wellness Centre, with a passion for caring for others and her community.
In addition to her volunteer work for the chamber, Proctor volunteers for Valley Children’s Adaptive Sports where she assists with the coordination and planning of events.
“Carrie shows her support to the community through her work with the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce and Soroptimist of The Sierras,” Chamber Executive Director Joelle V. Leder said. “Over this past year Carrie has really shined and stood out over the rest with enthusiasm, a ‘can do’ attitude and a smile for many events and many volunteer hours after work to assist with the chamber’s German Fest in March, the Fall Festival in October, Oakhurst Chamber Women In Business each month and so much more to get the job done for the chamber. She is always there when needed.”
When Proctor is not volunteering, she spends her time as wife and a mother of two.
New chamber slate of officers
Chamber officers to be installed for 2017 are Betty Linn, president; Melanie Barker, president-elect; Donna Smith, secretary; Andrew Pence, treasurer; and Don Eaves, past president.
In addition, 10 directors will be installed - Anne Driscoll, Brian Negley, Darin Soukup, Donna Dozier, Julie Fulmer, Mark Choe, Mike DeVito, Mike Sullivan, Shawnsa Petrushkin and Shelle Abbott.
Reservations are now being taken for the 58th Annual Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner and Award Ceremony.
“Join us in celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of this year’s award recipients and the installation of the 2017 board of directors,” Leder said.
Details: Tickets are $45 per person, available at https://2017oaccinstallation.eventbrite.com (plus an online service fee). Special room rates are being offered by Tenaya Lodge for the evening and those interested are asked to call the chamber at (559) 683-7766 for the room code.
Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce and Sierra Star