POLO – About 160 people turned out for the Oregon Chamber of Commerce’s dinner Thursday night. On the docket was food, fun and – of course – the annual announcements of the chambers’ citizen, volunteer and business of the year.
Guests dined and participated in a lively dessert auction before Debbie Dickson, executive director of the chamber, took the stage to announce this year’s winners.
• Citizen of the year: Otto Dick
Otto Dick moved to Oregon with his family in 1946, as a young school boy. His father was a principal, and Otto kind of followed in those footsteps – spending 25 years as a teacher at Dixon High School.
He now spends most of his time volunteering around the community, and working to promote it any way he can, from his work with the Ogle County Historical Society, to his passion and, as Dickson said, the “immeasurable sweat equity” he has poured into the Depot restoration project.
He also writes weekly articles about local history for the Republican Reporter.
“This is a man quiet in nature, mild in manner, working silently behind many scenes, whose actions speak loudly of the pride and commitment he carries when he walks throughout our community,” Dickson said.
He is the 30th recipient of the chamber’s annual award.
“I’m proud to be up here with ‘the lady on the rock,’” he joked, before thanking the chamber for the award.
“I’m one of many people who volunteer and [give] so much effort for the town of Oregon,” he said. “I love Oregon. ... It’s a great place; I’m just so happy to be here. I’d choose no place else to live. We have a great history here. Let’s be positive about our town.”
• Volunteer of the year: Laura Medlar
Medlar has served on the Candlelight Walk Committee for more than 10 years in a variety of positions. She is a chamber ambassador and an Autumn on Parade committee member. Medlar served as Duck Dash chair for more than 10 years, interim food court chair, and has served on the executive board.
She’s also served 8 years on the Ogle County Community Mental Health Board, and volunteers for the Mount Morris Moose Club and the Oregon VFW.
“It is an honor,” Medlar said upon taking the stage, her voice shaking with emotion. “I have known so many of you – as I look out here and see familiar faces – from years of serving on boards and doing social activities with many of these people in this room. It is an honor. I am amazed, I didn’t have a clue.
“If anyone can reach out and touch another life through mental health service or whatever it may be, just do it.”
• Business of the year: Drs. Seth and Carrie Anderson of Alpine Chiropractic and Natural Medicine
The young couple, new to the area, immersed themselves in the community since their arrival by working with the chamber and the Lions Club.
“Their genuine dedication to quality; their compassion and commitment to be happy, healthy, and upstanding citizens has not only created dozens of strong relationships, but has also thrown a bright and shining spotlight on them,” Dickson said before the couple took the stage.
“Thank you so much to this community for welcoming us the way that you have,” Carrie said. “We were so excited to start our business here and be doctors here and help all of you as much as we possibly could. … This is quite an honor, especially after only 1 year of business.”
Her husband echoed her sentiment.
“This is a surprising and humbling and quite unexpected honor,” he said. “This has been a wonderful community to be a part of. It’s been tremendously welcoming and warm. It’s a great place to call home.”