Award winners honored at Chamber banquet

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 1/17/01.

Chamber winners A school secretary with sunny disposition, a mother devoted to making the community safer, a generous boss who always has a joke, a couple who have farmed near Spring Hill for 55 years, and a budding musician were chosen by the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce as its Salute to Excellence Award winners for 2000.

Community winners were: (front L to R) Becca Gardner, Outstanding Young Person; Clarence and Viola Bertram, Farmers of the Year; (back) Butch Mueller, Boss of the Year; Linda Mayer, Employee of the Year; and Brenda Stang, Community Service Award. Employee of the Year
Linda Mayer won Employee of the Year honors, Brenda Stang got the Community Service Award, Butch Mueller was named Boss of the Year, Clarence and Viola Bertram were chosen Farmers of the Year, and Becca Gardner was selected as the Outstanding Young Person.

The awards were announced at the Chamber's annual banquet on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at the American Legion.

"Who makes Paynesville Middle School a friendly place for kids and adults? Who goes out of her way to do the little things that make a work place enjoyable? Who can juggle three phone lines, an irate parent, a whining teacher, and two sick kids at once...and do it with a smile?" read a nomination for Employee of the Year. "Linda Mayer, that's who!"

Mayer, the secretary at Paynesville Area Middle School, set a Chamber record by being nominated by 69 teachers and school staff. Mayer, a native of Paynesville, has worked at the school for 13 years. She started in the computer lab, and has worked in the office for the past 11 years.

"With her sunny disposition, she is a pleasant person to work with," stated another nomination of Mayer. "Linda is always willing to help with any problems that arise, regardless of how hectic her own duties are. We would all be lost without her sincere care and assistance."

"Linda is the first place we all go for answers and help with virtually everything and her patience and graciousness never falter - no matter how many of us have asked her the same question or missed a deadline," said another staff member. "We're all dependent on her unfailing sense of humor."

The award, along with several bouquets of flowers, came as quite a surprise to Mayer. "Absolutely," she said. "They just floored me. I still haven't figured out how that many people could know about it and keep it secret."

Community Service Award
In addition to being a mother and working full time at the Paynesville Area Health Care System, Brenda Stang is an EMT with the Paynesville Area Ambulance Service, a volunteer on the ski patrol, the chair of the Relay for Life cancer fund raiser, a volunteer leader with her church's youth group, and an active member of the Paynesville Area Jaycees.

In recent years, Stang has been instrumental in the development of two community safety projects. The child safety seat program at PAHCS teaches parents how to correctly install safety seats in their cars. In three years, the program has checked 342 seats for safety. It has replaced more than 50 outdated seats with new models.

This fall, Stang helped organize a bike rally in Paynesville and start a bike helmet promotion.

Boss of the Year
Butch Mueller started Mueller Wood Products on a Regal farm. "He is the best boss a person could have," his nomination reads. "Butch is always fair and generous to his employees, helping them out in any way. Not only on the job, but off the job as well."

Mueller is a past president of the Lake Henry Lions and the Knights of Columbus. He also is a religion teacher, a church musician, and a supporter of Ducks Unlimited.

"As many who own their own business know, there is a lot of pressure on a daily basis, but a good boss is one who lets his employees know they are appreciated and respected," another nomination of Mueller stated.

Farmers of the Year
Clarence and Viola Bertram have farmed near Spring Hill for more than 50 years.

Clarence began farming the place in 1945. He and Viola were married two years later, and now have been married for 53 years.

"Through the years, the Bertrams expanded the number of acres, tried a variety of different farming techniques and tried to stay current with different farming practices," their nomination explained. "They respected the environment, tried to make a decent living, and remained active in many different state and local organizations - both in and out of agriculture."

Outstanding Young Person
Becca Gardner, a senior at Paynesville Area High School, is a member of the high school band and choir, of the Christian singing group On Call, and the All State choir. She gives piano lessons, plays accompaniment at St. Louis Catholic Church and for fellow high school students at contests, and is active in Girl Scouts.

"She ALWAYS comes in with a smile and is ready to go and is so positive with the kids," stated her nomination. "She's a joy to work with! Never once have I seen her negative or crabby."

"Probably the best way I can describe Rebecca is that she is the daughter that all of us would love to have," the nomination continued. "...She is an example of Paynesville at its best."

Gardner is the daughter of Dr. Bob and Phyllis Gardner.

New Chamber board
Chamber board Elected to the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce board for 2001 were: Chris Stanley, president; Diane Kodet, first vice president; and Melissa Bachman, Todd Burlingame, Steve Guzy, Ann Winge Johnson, and John Peyerl.

Pictured: (front) Sue Brauchler, Diane Kodet, Melissa Bachman, Kay Spooner, and Ann Winge Johnson; (back) John Peyerl, Jeff Bertram, Chris Stanley, Todd Burlingame, Steve Guzy, and Paul Bugbee.

In a new initiative, Bachman, a junior at Paynesville Area High School, will represent youth on the Chamber board. Stanley is the manager at the Paynesville Office of the Melrose Credit Union. Kodet works at Community First National Bank.

Burlingame is the principal at Paynesville Area Elementary School. Guzy is the manager at the Stearns Manufacturing plant in Paynesville. Johnson is the advertising manager at the Paynesville Press. And Peyerl is an accountant at PAHCS.

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