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Small Business Awards recognize the best of Athabasca

Chamber of Commerce awards Lifetime Award of Achievement to Boyle Veterinary Services Ltd. 

ATHABASCA/BOYLE - While half a century isn’t a full lifetime, people need time to decompress and enjoy retirement after serving a community and region loyally for five decades, which is exactly the plan for Dr. Robert and Liz Ostrander of Boyle Veterinary Services Ltd., who were presented with the Athabasca District Chamber of Commerce 2022 Lifetime Award of Achievement last week, just as they close the business. 

Chamber executive assistant Jenn Oba was joined by president Tova Schwede on Thursday, and director Adam Pacholok on Friday making stops to meet with nine different businesses and organizations who were voted to be the best by their customers. 

The Lifetime Award of Achievement, sponsored by the Town of Athabasca in memory of founding Chamber member Eileen Chamberlain, recognizes a business that has been in continuous operation for at least 30 years and demonstrates continual outstanding involvement in and contribution to the growth of the business community. 

Oba, Pacholok and Town of Athabasca Coun. Edie Yuill presented the Ostranders with the award Friday morning in Boyle. 

“This is really something, we're very humbled to receive this and it's hard to find appropriate words of thank you, but I just wish that we could have had somebody step in here at the clinic to carry on that work for the community. I feel bad about that but that’s the way it is,” said Dr. Ostrander as wife Liz teared up beside him. 

Yuill brought good wishes and kind words from the town, thanking the Ostranders for their 48 years of service to the region and Northern Alberta.  

From there, it was back to Athabasca to present the Business of the Year Award, sponsored by the Chamber, to the Athabasca Regional Waste Facility. The award is handed to the business or organization that best exemplifies the Chambers mandate of working together to advance financial, commercial, industrial and civic interests in the region. 

“Athabasca Regional Waste provides an exemplary model of a business that cares about this region. The dedicated and long-term staff at this facility always go the extra mile to accommodate the needs of their clients. The facility has annual events to allow the community to dispose of items at no cost. The cost-conscious methods of dealing with recyclables to keep them out of the landfill sites as environmental gatekeepers is invaluable,” said Oba, reading aloud from one of the nominations. 

Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission manager Rob Smith accepted the award on behalf of the facility’s many partners and employees. 

“Thanks to all of our customers, of course … our Blue Heron contracted partners, Dr. Recycle, Valley Services, and all of our staff and employees who go beyond to deal with all the people and their stuff,” said Smith. 

The Chamber actually kicked off Small Business Week Oct. 15 with a cabaret social at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, announcing the nominees for the 11 different awards, handed out annually by the Chamber, and giving attendees a chance to unwind on a Saturday night and enjoy some live tunes from Bonnie Nichols and the Torpedoes. 

The Community Spirit Award, sponsored by the Athabasca County Tourism and Economic Development Committee, went to renowned local mascot Joey Maddison and his joy-spreading business One Red Nose and 10 Happy Toes. 

Oba, TED officer Naomi Hofer, and Schwede, joined Maddison and three of his friends at Riverfront Park to hand out the hardware Thursday, with Oba once again reading the words of one of the nominators. 

“This is an award made for Joey. He is the heart and soul of our community spirit. There is no one more deserving than him for this award. When residents are just doing their day-to-day routine. Joey is not far off. Some are turning frowns upside down, whether it is in costume or not. Athabasca is a town with a community of wonderful people ... In my mind, there is no one but Joey, who deserves to be recognized for all he does ... Joey is Athabasca.” 

“Thank you very much for the love and support everyone,” Maddison said. 

Six other awards were handed out over the two days including the Customer Service Award, sponsored by Athabasca Hometown Printing Company, which went to Cheap Seats Sporting Goods; the New Business of the Year Award, which went to new OK Tire owners Andrew and Amanda Toyne at OK Tire; and the Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by the Athabasca Lions Club, which went to Natalie Hamzeh and Neighbour’s Concession, which has been operating out of the Multiplex for the better part of a year. 

Meanwhile, the Home-based Business of the Year, sponsored by Home Hardware, was awarded to Lotus Nails proprietor Latoia Charlton who thanked her clients for letting her make them beautiful; while Marketer of the Year, sponsored by BOOM 94.1, was awarded to the Magnificent River Rats Festival Society for its three-pronged advertising campaign and associated re-branding. 

The Athabasca Advocate also received the Employer of Youth Award, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Athabasca, after a sparkling nomination from university-bound former intern Danica Brad. 

The last of the two awards were given out Monday and Wednesday, with the Customer Choice Award, sponsored by Flowers by Christina, going to Husky Market. The Customer Choice Award is the only one of the Small Business Awards where the winner is chosen directly by the public. 

“Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us to win this award, and I would like to congratulate all the other nominees and winners, and lastly, to my staff, this I couldn’t have done without you, thank you so much,” said owner Randy Skarpinsky. 

The final award, the Manager of the Year Award, sponsored by Royal Lepage County Realty, was awarded to Renee Nicholson at the Great Canadian Dollar Store. Oba read out a nomination for Nicholson that described her as someone that always wants to help her co-workers inside the store and outside of work. 

“There is no one else more deserving.” 

All 11 of the presentations can be found at the Athabasca District Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. 

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