74th Annual Celebrate Corvallis winners announced, Chamber Choices app unveiled

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Contributed by Katterlea MacGregor

Jamie Ely and Hyatt Lytle embrace after Ely was announced as winner of Junior First Citizen at the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce’s Celebrate Corvallis event on March 18. Lytle, the 2019 winner, passed on the crown to Ely.

Katterlea MacGregor, News Contributor

The Corvallis Chamber of Commerce hosted their 74th annual Celebrate Corvallis event at the Oregon State University Alumni Center on March 18. Thirteen awards recognized the achievements of Corvallis, Ore. businesses and community members.

The Corvallis Chamber of Commerce also unveiled new developments coming to Corvallis during the event. These included offering healthcare to small businesses, a weekly Monday newsletter and a new app featuring Chamber Choices, coming out in late April. With this app, users will be able to filter through local businesses based on specific criteria such as environmentally friendly, LGBTQ+ welcome and more.

With over 74 nominees and a couple hundred attendees, this year’s event was one of the first large events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“It feels good to be out,” said Sarah Farey, the executive chef at Block 15 Brewing Company. “It feels good to dress up. Haven’t dressed up in a very long time.”

The event began with a Zoom call. Projected in front of the crowd, Simon Date, the president of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce, ran through downtown Corvallis in a rush to make it to the event… without pants. After months of Zoom meetings, many people had given up on dressing well from head to toe. This was the first of many acknowledgments of the way the pandemic re-shaped the business world.

The evening was filled with references and light-hearted jokes about the pandemic which emphasized the community’s perseverance through trying times and accentuated the “Maskerade” theme. Date emceed the event which included celebrations of healthcare workers and educators as well.

Ilene Kleinsorge, who is the former dean of Oregon State University’s College of Business, was nominated for and received the honor of being named Senior First Citizen. 

“My emotions are humility, gratitude and believing that there are people within our community that do so much more,” Kleinsorge said. “However, when I was the dean of the College of Business, I always felt that I could not make a difference in the world if I could not make a difference in my own community.”

Many of the award recipients, such as Kleinsorge, have been longtime Corvallis residents and have deeply invested in the community.

For example, Bre Miller, who has been a part of the Corvallis community for 36 years and is also a Beaver Alumni, was named Business Person of the Year.

“Being from Corvallis, it’s probably the greatest honor of my life,” Miller said.

This sentiment radiated throughout much of the evening. Many recipients spoke of their longtime involvement in Corvallis and how different it is from other communities.

“What strikes me about Corvallis is that people care,” said Inge King, recipient of the First Citizen Award and president of the WaFd Bank.

Adrienne Fritze, co-owner of the Conundrum House, echoed this sentiment as she accepted the award for Small Business of the Year.

“We love this community,” Fritze said.

One category, Junior First Citizen, awards a trophy and a crown. Hyatt Lytle, a city councilor, said she received the crown in 2019  and has had the honor of matching the crown to all her outfits.

During the event, Lytle handed off the crown to the new Junior First Citizen, Jamie Ely, who is the Linn-Benton Sales Executive for Ticor Title Corvallis.

“I’m a little sad to give it up but I’m excited to give it to a new person,” Lytle said.

2022 Celebrate Corvallis Winners:

Large Business: Block 15

Medium Business: Corvallis Custom

Small Business: Conundrum House

Sustainable Business: G. Christianson Construction

Future First Citizen: Kate Voltz

Junior First Citizen: Jamie Ely

First Citizen: Inge King

Senior First Citizen: Ilene Kleinsorge

Entrepreneur: Andrew Grenville

Patron of the Arts: Jen Hernandez

Nonprofit: Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence

People’s Choice Award: Healing Motion Physical Therapy