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The Marie Blakeman Award was presented to longtime Hudson volunteers Georgia and Dick Whitcomb at the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau annual Awards Banquet at the Hudson Golf Club Thursday night, Jan. 22. Among those at the ceremony were, from left, 2008 Chamber Chair Gene Haberman, Georgia and Dick Whitcomb, son Lane Whitcomb (holding son Bennett), award presenter Barbara (Blakeman) Richardson and Chamber President Kim Heinemann. Photo by Margaret Ontl

Whitcombs receives Blakeman award

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The Marie Blakeman Award was presented to longtime Hudson volunteers Georgia and Dick Whitcomb at the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau annual Awards Banquet at the Hudson Golf Club Thursday night, Jan. 22.

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Whitcomb's first came to Hudson in 1981 when Dick worked for Control Data. After a short stint in Barron with Jerome Foods, Dick retired and the couple moved back to Hudson in the 1990s.

Among his long list of involvement in Hudson are: a founder of Community Action (now Youth Action Hudson), Daybreak Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Hudson Community Fund, Adoray, Phipps Center for the Arts, child-centered coaching, many youth oriented organizations and efforts, attends many Hudson High School athletic events, Youth Community Assets, Grace Place, Salvation Army, Hudson food shelf and many activities involving Hudson's First Presbyterian Church.

In introducing the Whitcombs, Barbara (Blakeman) Richardson said, "The winner's involvement in Hudson has had a very positive impact on the community."

In accepting the award, Dick Whitcomb said he has always enjoyed Hudson.

"It's a fantastic community," Whitcomb said. "We appreciate all our friends here. We thought about moving after our kids grew up, but couldn't think of a better place where we'd want to be. There are so many good things that go on in this community."

The Blakeman Award was established for Marie Blakeman (1917-1999), who along with her husband Harry Blakeman (1912-1976) owned Nor-Lake Inc. for much of their lives.

Marie was extremely active in the community. The award exemplifies her community leadership, contributions and passion.

Other award winners were:

  • Large Business of the Year (more than 20 employees): Hudson Physicians.

    The award was accepted by Ernie Wallin. The clinic currently has 172 employees, including 26 medical providers. They see 300 to 400 patients each day. Outgoing Chamber Board President Gene Haberman said Hudson Physicians "serve the community, yet the staff is very active in civic organizations and donate time and expertise to many events and efforts."

    In accepting the award, Wallin said the staff is extremely honored to receive the award. He said the business is quite different from what it was 20 years ago when two local clinics merged.

    "At the time the two clinics had eight physicians and a total staff of 12 people," Wallin said.

  • Small Business of the Year (less than 20 employees): Barkers Bar and Grill.

    The award was accepted by owner Pete Foster who said he is happy to serve Hudson and the surrounding communities.

    "I am humbled and honored to receive this award," Foster said. "It is because of you, our loyal supporters that we are successful. We also have the best employees in the area."

    Haberman said the business began operation in 1988 and went smoke-free in 2003. Foster has also been very active in the community and a big supporter of local events and organizations.

  • Chamber Member of the Year: Dana Glade.

    County Market store Manager Dana Glade has been very involved in Chamber activities over the years. Among his long list of involvement were the Chamber Board, Board Chair in 2005, Executive Board, Music and Arts Fest Committee, Spirit of St. Croix Committee, Spring Showcase Committee, Hill Retail Committee, Search Committed for new president, Long Range Planning Committee and more.

    "I've enjoyed my Chamber involvement and am honored and humbled to receive this award," Glade said. "There are so many doers involved in the Chamber who also deserve this award."

  • Community Volunteer of the Year: John Marnell.

    He has impacted the community with involvement in numerous organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Daybreak Rotary, United Way, YMCA Camp St. Croix, Meals on Wheels, Family Means, St. Patrick Church, Phipps campaign, Y Partners campaign, Community Action (YAH) and has done much volunteer work at Hudson Hospital & Clinics where he was employed for many years - many as hospital administrator and most recently as director of development before retiring earlier in 2008.

    New chair

    E Cycling St. Croix Valley owner Rich Holloway took the gavel as 2009 chair of the Chamber. He takes the reins from Gene Haberman of Citizens State Bank.

    Holloway said he looks forward to the upcoming year.

    "I'm so proud to be a part of this group," Holloway said. "I'm looking forward to another year of growth."

    The chamber currently has 591 members, making it the 10th largest chamber in the Twin Cities metro area.

    "Of course, we're not just looking at numbers - we also want to provide value," Holloway said. "We have an incredible staff and a great board - it should be a great year.". Haberman

    Outgoing Chair Haberman said 2008 was another great year for the Chamber.

    "We had many activities and are financially sound," Haberman said. He also recognized the board and said "It's been a breeze to chair this organization for the past year."

    Among the highlights was the new Spirit of St. Croix Days last fall that featured a professional walleye tournament. Many other activities included: Spring Showcase, annual banquet, golf tournament, new teacher luncheon, Christmas Tour of Homes, Black Tie event, many other Christmas events, quarterly new members meets and business spotlights and much more.

    Haberman also recognized the board, which includes new members LouAnne Reger (J&L Steel and Electrical Services) and Brian Zeller (Ban Tara/Greystone Real Estate Group). They replace outgoing board members Rollie Carlson (formerly of the Hudson Golf Club) and Tom Cincotta (Robin Manufacturing USA Inc.).

    Other board members are Haberman (Citizens State Bank), Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten (Hudson School District), Shelli Erck (Hudson Flower Shop), Chair Holloway (E Cycling St. Croix Valley), Rich Lau (Redmon Law Chartered), Chair-Elect Randy Penkwitz (Investment Centers Of America), Treasurer Rob Knefelkamp (San Pedro Caf ), Angela Popenhagen (Stevens Engineers, Inc.) and Carla Timmerman (Best Western/ Hudson House Inn)

    The Chamber staff includes President Kim Heinemann, Director of Communications and Programs Pat Sherley, Membership and Programs Assistant Vanessa LaFleur, Director of Finance Jane Leaf and Special Projects Coordinator Char Hipsher.

    For more information, contact the Hudson Area Chamber at (715) 386-8411 or www.hudsonwi.

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