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The Times 

Dayton's night of awards and recognition


April 28, 2022

Submitted photo

The two exceptional citizens, Trista Villaro and Bette Crothers.

The Dayton Chamber of Commerce held its annual Community Choice Awards Banquet on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Each year, the public submits nominations for exceptional citizen, employee, business, and youth. This year, the Chamber added two categories to recognize, Start-up Business and Non-Profit of the year.

A selection committee, made up of the Chamber Board and community members, selected the winners. Though this year's banquet remained small, the Chamber didn't want to miss an opportunity to recognize these outstanding individuals and businesses.

The Start-up Business of the Year is Paige's Floral & Gifts. The glowing terms in which this business was nominated made it easy for the selection committee to make this choice. This business makes people who are suffering feel loved during one of the worst events in their lives and brings smiles to others experiencing joyous of occasions. Paige's Floral is also known for its hard work and giving nature.

The award for Non-Profit of the Year was given to The Club. The honor was presented to a non-profit that keeps children safe, supervised, busy and happy. A place where children can gather, socialize, and learn in an environment that promotes self-discovery, social and emotional learning, personal responsibility, and builds positive relationships with peers and adults. The Club was also recognized for alleviating stress on parents. The community appreciates what The Club has established for our children and, in turn, for us.

The winner of this year's Employee of the Year, Director of Port of Columbia Jennie Dickenson, was chosen for her dedication to community, economic development, and improving Columbia County's quality of life. Nominations described Dickenson as "devoted, working tirelessly, deserving, passionate, energetic, and loyal." Dickinson was also recognized for her commitment to the community as she strives to move our community forward while sometimes facing obstacles that others are unable to overcome. All she has accomplished has been done while managing Port of Columbia property and staff, helping local businesses through COVID-19, maintaining professionalism in the face of adversity, and continuing to try to make life better for the community.

Economic growth, vitality, support, dedication, and commitment are a few words used to nominate the Business of the Year, Puget Sound Energy. PSE began a movement in Columbia County to live and work in our community. This meant more jobs and opportunities for others to follow. PSE helped to improve Dayton's quality of life with not just what their company brings in the form of wind energy but also with community support and volunteerism.

Starting with economic vitality, PSE brings taxes over four million dollars annually. This helps fund local services, including the fire department, school district, library, hospital, and county roads. During their 17 years in Dayton, they provided their employees work time to support Dayton and Columbia County community organizations. They are not just a part of the community; they are invested in the community.

Trista Villaro was chosen as this year's Youth Citizen. Villaro was recognized for her willingness to help community members and events around Dayton. She has volunteered to pass out food to those in need, help clean a community member's kitchen, help at Blue Mountain Station's Oktoberfest, and the Easter Egg hunt in the park. She is described as kind and caring to everyone and loves animals. Trista is serving this year as one of the Columbia County Fair Hostesses. The daughter of Eric & Jennifer Villaro, Trista is the Youth Citizen of the Year.

The last award of the evening, Citizen of the Year, was presented to Bette Lou Crothers. Crothers embodies the definition of what Dayton is, can and should be. A place to live, work, love, grow and prosper. She wants what we all want, a community to call home, a community to take pride in. Crothers embodies the definition of "giving back ." The word no has never been a part of her vocabulary. Ask the Dayton Task Force, or All Wheels Weekend committee, the Dayton Historical Depot, or the Touchet Valley Golf Course. Does she ever say no? Dedication and commitment to growing Dayton, helping to define who we are not just by words but by action. Striving to enhance how Dayton looks, feels, and welcomes others into the community with selflessness and devotion to its growth, beauty, and economic development. Bette Lou's smile, laughter, and generosity make it almost impossible to say no when she asks for sponsorships or donations. When Bette Lou approaches you, you automatically open your heart and your wallet to give back as she has always done.

The Historic Preservation Society also presented an award to My Dad's Place for the restoration of their facade for business, enhancing Main Street.Joel & Christy Steele were awarded the Residential award for their extensive preservation efforts on the historical Mill House on 1st Street.


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