Oro Valley residents Al and Marilyn Cook were among the many local people and businesses honored Aug. 25 during the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and Pinnacle Awards breakfast.

The Cooks received the 2011 Legacy Award.

The nomination said, “Al and Marilyn are a shining example of commitment, involvement and dedication to the community. They work behind the scenes to assist government, education, the arts and other organizations in their missions. They are not only philanthropists, but donate their time and energy to bettering education and the community.”

In accepting the award, the Oro Valley couple said they appreciate the recognition.

“We are honored. Flabbergasted, but honored,” Al said. “We are grateful. We give as much as we can to the community. We want to give back for what it’s given us.”

Al Cook is also a member of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, which also was honored at the event and named the 2011 Nonprofit of the Year.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award and must thank our Southern Arizona Business Committee for the Arts partners for helping our organization expand in such a dynamic way,” said SAACA Executive Director Kate Marquez.

Part of the reason SAACA was honored was its growth throughout the community. The organization grew from making $250,000 last year, to making more than $800,000 this year without accepting government funding.

Gregg Forszt, of Ventana Medical Systems Inc., was named the Community Leader of the Year.

According to the nomination, Forszt is committed to the success of the NPCCC and the Oro Valley community.

“Gregg has preserved Ventana’s community and chamber sponsorships, and has donated countless hours of his sage guidance and direction,” according to the nomination.

In accepting the award, Forszt said he thought of his parents when he found out the nomination. As a kid, he remembered helping them clear tables at pancake breakfasts, removing staples from raffle tickets, and being taught the valuable lesson that giving back to the community is important.

Forszt thanked his family for their continued support, noting that volunteering takes a lot of time throughout the year.

Local businesses were also honored for their continued support of the local community.

Ventana Medical Systems Inc. was named the NPCCC Large Business of the Year, The Keg Steakhouse & Bar was selected as the Midsize Business of the Year, and M&I Bank was named the 2011 Small Business of the Year.

New chamber members

In addition to recognizing business and community leaders last week, NPCCC also introduced its board’s new chairman and members.

Colin Keating of Keating Insurance Services is the new chairman of the board. Keating replaces JR Johnson, of New York Life. Johnson will remain on the board as a regular member. Other members include treasurer Kathy Farmer of AAA Landscape and secretary Sarah Adams of Bedmart.

The chair-elect is Paul Evens of The Keg Steakhouse & Bar.

New to the board are Judi Butcher, M&I/BMO Oro Valley; Carlos Lomeli, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market; and Wendy Wise, State Farm Wendy Wise.   

They join incumbent board members Lyra Done, Lyra Done Realty; Jill Casson Owen, Casson Owen Law; Gregg Forszt, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.; Lynn Ericksen, The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort; Andy Keating, Andrew Keating CPA; Kathleen Stupp, The Golf Villas; Ron Janicki, Northwest Exterminating; and Angie Kolling, Oro Valley Hospital.

Keri Lamont of Signature Skin Care and Tom Thaller of M&I have completed their service on the board.

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