A festive Hawaiian luau greeted attendees of the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce Awards Night at Roadhaven Resort on Thursday, June 30. Themed decorations, including leis, handmade table centerpieces and photo backdrops, invited members and guests to relax and enjoy a delicious buffet, while watching a performance of hula dancing – a performance that included an onstage class, as the dancers attempted to teach many of our community’s business leaders how to hula.

The purpose of the event, though, was to celebrate selected awardees, several of whom were not announced until that evening.

With 1,128 votes cast, the People’s Choice Award went to the VFW Post #7968 and Auxiliary. The VFW coordinated 60 volunteers this year to help 1,500 veterans, and their efforts funneled $25,000 to various youth organizations.

With 117 employees and the motto, “We work for the earth,” the award for Large Business of the Year went to Republic Services.

Little Caesar’s of Apache Junction claimed the award for Mid-size Business of the Year. With 11 stores in their portfolio, Herve and Audrie Ouellette have become known for their unflagging support of community organizations.

A philosophy of “No bad news, and always make people smile,” earned Mike and Kathy Becker, owners of the PassTime Paper, the award for Small Business of the Year.

Accepting the Non-Profit of the Year award, Delbert and Judy Lutes, Arizona Winter Visitors Association, reminisced, “27 years ago, our first office was a tin shed.” The organization now boasts 80 volunteers.

In the individual awards categories, the winners were:

  • Sheriff of the Year: Deputy Tanner Farnsworth
  • Firefighter of the Year: Ryan Ledbetter
  • Police Officer of the Year: Detective Stephanie Jewell
  • Professor of the Year (ASU): Carola Grebitus
  • Professor of the Year (CAC): Stacey Kyhn
  • Teacher of the Year: Sheryl Anderson (AJHS)
  • Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Tanya Davies
  • Community Volunteer of the Year: Mae Stothart

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