Chamber announces business and citizen awards

The 2018 Altona & District Chamber of Commerce award recipients: (left to right) Elmer Friesen (Friesen's Manufacturing), Larry Winter and Sean Winter (Winner's Circle), Jayden Friesen-Kehler (Youth of the Year), Curwin Friesen (Citizen of the Year), and Gord Sawatzky (Volunteer of the Year). LORI PENNER/Red River Valley Echo

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The Altona & District Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the recipients of the 2018 Business Excellence Awards, Citizen of the Year, Volunteer Recognition and Youth Recognition.

Business Excellence Awards
Criteria for selecting the Business Excellence Award recipients included the following components:
-Business achievement and growth
-Employment growth
-Contribution to the industry and community
-Overall positive impact on community through spirit, drive and vision -Volunteer service and leadership
The recipient for the Business Excellence Award (11 employees or more) is Buffalo Creek Mills Inc. Buffalo Creek Mills started operation in 2014 with 2 employees, and with the company’s strong work ethic and vision, they have expanded the company’s services and staffing to 21 employees and continue to show positive growth. Buffalo Creek Mills is an oat processing company that purchases oats throughout western Canada and mills these oats to provide oat groats for human consumption, pet foods, bird foods, and feed markets thru out Mexico, USA, and Canada.
Most recently In the last year, Buffalo Creek have constructed a new pellet mill, that provides compact oat pellets to the feed and bio-fuel industry, in addition to installing equipment to double production capacity.
Buffalo Creek Mills has been a solid contributor to our region, with numerous skilled employment opportunities, that continues to fuel our growing local economy.
The recipient for the Business Excellence Award (10 employees or less) is CrossFit Outland. CrossFit Outland started in 2015 with a passion for health and wellness, and a startup location of a homemade barn gym in Blumenort. From there, CrossFit organically grew within the Altona community from a 600 sq. ft. gym to a current 4100 square foot Healthy living facility. CrossFit has shown steady growth since 2015, going from 15 memberships to currently sitting at over 100 adult members, that have trusted them with their fitness journeys, and providing more stable employment opportunities to our community.
CrossFit Outland is a fully coached fitness center that provides a place for all people and fitness levels to get stronger, improve their health, and develop relationships within the community. CrossFit Outland has not only provided our community with Healthy lifestyle opportunities, but also gives back and supporting various organizations. Some of these include, Hosting 2018 24hr “Row-A-Thon fundraiser for big brother and sisters, participating in “World of Choices” event for Border land School division, and supporting and hosting varies youth, adult programs.

Citizen of the Year
The Citizen of the Year Award is presented to an individual who deserves to be recognized for contributions over a period of years to the welfare and advancement of our area through civic, community or church work as well as their achievements in their chosen industry or business
Melvin Klassen is the recipient of the 2018 Citizen of the Year Award, with Mel’s lasting contribution to the community with some notable highlights such as, having served for 16 years as the Mayor of Altona, thru many years of community growth, while working with other local leaders, and resources to realize a vision.
Mel has enjoyed a successful and rewarding teaching career that spanned 34 years, which included 29 years in Altona. Mel continues to leave a positive impact in many organizations and community initiatives.
Some of these includes, 6 years as Director with the Associated Manitoba Municipalities and Two years as AMM Vice President. Mel was part of a group of 4 founding fathers, whose sons had no place to play competitive baseball; that envisioned and created the Altona Minor Ball Program.
Today, the program is known province wide for being the “hot spot” of baseball and showcasing Access Field of Dreams, as one of Manitoba’s finest, complete with, field lighting, stands for fans, and a major league baseball scoreboard. Mel also served in a variety of roles at his home church, and with his devotion to help others, Mel would be found teaching Sunday school, while serving on the Church Council as Chairman.
His community service included 28 years with the credit union movement, including 16 years as President of the Altona Credit Union, later as President of the Southern Manitoba Chapter, and then as First Vice President of Credit Union Central of Manitoba. In 2011, the Manitoba Credit Unions recognized his dedicated work with the ‘Order of Merit’. Mel is a humble man, who is truly grateful for his loving family and the community he has faithfully served.

Volunteer Recognition Award
The Volunteer Recognition award is presented to a citizen or group who deserves to be recognized for their contribution throughout 2018 through community, and other volunteer activities. Ben Dueck is the recipient of the 2018 Volunteer Recognition Award, Ben has been contributing to the quality of life in Altona for many years, in many capacities, and He serves on a variety of boards, including the Access Credit Union and The Gardens on Tenth.
Ben was active in assisting and creating one of rural Manitoba’s baseball gems Access Field. He continues to volunteer and takes pride in helping on day to day maintenance tasks to keep things in pristine condition for all to enjoy for years to come. Ben is also a key part of his home church Altona Bergthaler, serving as a regular audio technician on Sunday mornings, funerals, concerts, and weddings. Ben’s willingness to help others is evident to many residents and seniors, with his knowledge in computers, as he can be found helping anyone that calls upon him.

Youth Recognition Award
The Youth Recognition award is presented to a youth who deserves to be recognized for a personal contribution to the community through community or church work as well as other achievements throughout 2018. Jia Yan (Jossie) Yan is the recipient of the 2018 Youth Recognition Award. Jossie is a Grade 12 student at WCMC, who in addition to serving as President of the Student Council is also a member of the school band.
Jossie’s willingness to lead is evident in her volunteering as co-chair for the 2019 WCMC Grad Committee and high school representative on the Altona Town Council, where she brings her bright personality and enjoys participating in engaging discussions. Jossie does all of this, while assisting her mother in running Lok Lok Gardens Restaurant in Altona.
Jossie is an excellent example of a young person juggling all the demands of school, maintaining grade levels necessary for Jossie’s desire in pursuing post-secondary Degree in the faculty of Science, and while lending her talents to her school, family, and overall efforts in our community.
The Annual Awards Banquet will be held on April 18, 2019, at the Rhineland Pioneer Centre.
This year the guest speaker is Matt Falk; Matt will not only entertain us with some humor, but also provide an informational and inspiring presentation at our Awards Gala.
Tickets are $85 and $650 for a table. For tickets, contact the Chamber office, or reserve them online Deadline is April 8, 2019. For more info call 204-324-8793.