Janet Brownell photo Left to right: Orcas School Board Members Scott Lancaster and Chris Sutton. Not pictured: Tony Ghazel.

Chamber annual meeting coverage; community awards presented

Rosario Resort’s Beach House was filled to the brim with island businesspeople for the Orcas Island Chamber’s annual meeting.

Nearly 200 island businesspeople gathered at Rosario to celebrate local commerce and volunteer efforts on Oct 26. The crowd heard from Victoria Compton of the economic development council and Deborah Hopkins of the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau.

San Juan County Councilman Rick Hughes spoke about county finances. Sales tax revenue has exceeded property tax revenue for the first time in the county’s history. The council has also facilitated growing the budget stabilization fund from zero to $1.6 million and decreasing the debt load to the lowest its been in 15 years. This year there is $4 million in the lodging tax grant fund; $2 million will be distributed between the three island chambers, the visitors’ bureau and other local agencies and the rest is given to nonprofit grant applicants.

Every year, the chamber recognizes locals who have made a difference in the community. This year’s winners are as follows:

Community Service Award: Outgoing school board members Scott Lancaster, Tony Ghazel and Chris Sutton.

Environmental Excellence Award: Orcas Recycling Services/The Exchange

“Island Friendly Spirit” Award for Customer Service: Island Market

Business Innovation and Creativity Award: David Dotlich and Doug Elwood of OrcasSong Farm

Business Marketing Award: Doe Bay Wine Company

President’s Award for Public Service: County Councilman Rick Hughes