Chamber dinner is a walk in the park

HARRIS – For attendees of the Delta County Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner Thursday night, it was a walk in the park.

The evening – held at the Island Resort and Casino – was themed after a picnic in the park at dusk and celebrated the completion of the Escanaba sesquicentennial celebration.

“For many years, Ludington Park has been a favorite place for picnics, birthday parties, and Fourth of July fun, that’s why we – well mostly Steve Masters (Bays de Noc Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director) – thought it might be a perfect backdrop to continue Escanaba’s Sesquicentennial Celebration,” said Viki Micheau, director of the Delta County Area Chamber of Commerce.

During the dinner, the 2014 chamber board of directors was inducted. Brenda Lippens succeeded Deb Doyle as Chamber chairperson.

Graduates from the Delta Force Leadership Program – a leadership development program that focuses on character, accountability, culture, ethics and the leadership process – were also honored. Graduating from Delta Force were Sarah Aviles, Laura Bermudez, Brandy Bougie, Matthew Burr, Brad Columb, Sharon Damitz, Rick Elrod, Sara Flath, Connie Gatien, Jennie Gylock, Ali Kirby, Patty Kohli, Tracy Lantagne, Pamla Lauscher, Scott Maki, Meghan Micheau, Chris Perryman, Lance Rath, Holly Rau, Nicholas Stafford and Melissa Ann VanBrocklin.

“I moved here back in 1998, not knowing anyone, not familiar with the community… and starting a new life. Fifteen years later, I learned more about the community in one day a month than the entire time I lived here,” said Delta Force Graduate Lance Rath. “Delta Force guided our group through every aspect of what makes Delta County the way it is.”

A variety of awards were presented during the dinner. Lori Hertig, Kay Johnson, and Pat Baribeau received the “Escellence Award,” celebrating Escanaba excellence, for their work in planning, organizing and implementing the Escanaba sesquicentennial celebration.

Nine “Escanaba ‘Wooden’ be the Same Without You” awards were presented during the event. Robert Viau and Gary Brayak received the Excellence in Education awards, sponsored by the Community Foundation for Delta County; the Bay College Scholarship sponsored by OSF St. Francis Hospital was awarded to first-year Bay College student Jessica Beauchamp; the Excellence in Customer Service Award, sponsored by DTE Energy, was presented to Richards Printing; the Century Award, sponsored by the Delta County Economic Development Alliance and Michigan Works!, was presented to Crawford Funeral Homes; the Philanthropy Award, sponsored by the Esky 150 Committee, was given to Gary LaPlant, executive director of the Community Foundation of Delta County; the Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by the Daily Press, was awarded to Bill and Janet LaMarch; The Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Michigan Works! The Job Force Board, was awarded to Matthew Wastell of Pisces. Inc.; and the Athena Award, from the Athena Committee of Delta County, was presented to Deb Millican.

Following the presentation of the other awards, a special award recognizing the Chamber and the Visitor and Convention Bureau members was given by the Esky 150 Committee.

“The Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor and Convention Bureau, you didn’t see them at every event, you didn’t see them out hanging signs and doing a lot of the things our committee was doing, because they were so busy behind the scenes,” said Esky 150 Committee Member Kay Johnson. To view more photos from Thursday night’s awards dinner, log on to