Marana chamber awards to 5
Dave Perry/The Explorer, Marana Chamber of Commerce Community and Business Builder Award winners for 2009 stood with their trophies after Wednesday's luncheon. From left are Chuck Luhtala, Canyon Community Bank; Gary Nicholl, State Farm Insurance; Loree Funk, Southwest Gas; Clarence Vatne, Marana Health Center; and Thoby Vieux, Batters Box.

Four businesses and the Marana Health Center were recognized for excellence last Wednesday by the Marana Chamber of Commerce.

Batters Box, Southwest Gas, Canyon Community Bank and State Farm Insurance – Gary Nicholl were presented Community and Business Builder awards in their respective categories during an awards ceremony at Tower Theatres.

Marana Health Center was named the outstanding non-profit.

Mayor Ed Honea presented the awards after a buffet-style luncheon provided by 11 chamber food vendors. Judges Kim States of the Better Business Bureau, Doug Mayes of and Suzette Colley of the Arizona Small Business Association evaluated a field of nominees based on their contributions toward building the Marana community.

Batters Box was chosen by judges over finalists AKKA Karate USA and State Farm Insurance – Andrea Jones in the one employee / sole proprietor group. Batters Box works on baseball and softball skills with young people. Hands to Life, Inc., was also nominated.

"I appreciate all of the support from the community," Batters Box's Thoby Vieux told the group.

Nicholl was the honoree in the 2-10 employee division. The business participates in a number of community endeavors. The other finalists were Gabrielle M. Luoma, CPA, and the Marana Weekly News. Other nominees were A Lotta Storage and Mail Etc., Adair Funeral Homes, Inc., Bank of the West, Dickey's Barbecue Pit, M&I Bank, Papa Murphy's Pizza, Rillito Post Office, Spectrum Ina Road Auto Collision, and Tompkins Family Chiropractic.

"We're all winners, just by being members of this wonderful chamber," Nicholl said. He asked the group to acknowledge its leader, chamber president Ed Stolmaker, who was applauded.

Canyon Community Bank, with two branches in Marana, prevailed in the 11-50 worker category. The bank assists numerous charities and civic organizations. Awakenings Massage and Tower Theatres were the other finalists. Nominated were DeMont Family Swim School, Golden Pin Lanes and Vulcan Materials Co.

"This is a huge thrill for us," said Canyon President Chuck Luhtala. He acknowledged bank employees in the audience. "Like a lot of businesses, we've asked our employees to do a lot more with a lot less people, and they've done a great job," Luhtala said.

Southwest Gas was honored among businesses with 51 or more employees. Its employees conduct food drives, raise cash for needy people and assist with chamber and business activities. Walmart and Waste Management were the other finalists. Chili's Grill and Bar and Texas Roadhouse were also nominated.

"Marana's a great community, and Southwest Gas is proud to be involved," said Loree Funk, service planner for the company in Marana.

Marana Health Center was tapped among eight nominees for outstanding non-profit. It has reduced the cost of "well" visits, adjusted its hours of operation and raised awareness of health issues. Other finalists were Marana Western Heritage Committee and the Northwest YMCA. Other nominees were Community Christian Church, High Heels for Hope, Marana Broncos Youth Football, Marana Community Food Bank and Northwest Fire District.

Clarence Vatne, chief executive officer for MHC, said the recognition acknowledges "the 200-plus employees who work out at the health center each day," and to the board of directors and its "vision, allowing us to expand our services and to reach out to this community."

Marana restaurants Boston's, Chili's, Creative Catering, Cutters Point Coffee, Dickey's Barbecue Pit, Hooters, Hungry Howie's Pizza, New Town Buffet, Texas Roadhouse, Tower Theatres and Sunflower Farmers Market fed the gathering.

Master of ceremonies Chuck George, local weatherman, stayed in role. "The rain will continue through tomorrow morning," he deadpanned.




Marana Chamber of Commerce

2009 Community and Business Builder of the Year awards.

Batters Box, sole proprietor.

State Farm Insurance - Gary Nicholl, 2-10 employees.

Canyon Community Bank, 11-50 employees.

Southwest Gas Corporation, 51 or more employees.

MHC Healthcare, non-profit organization.


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