Higgins named 'Innkeeper of the Year'

The Oregon Lodging Association has named Wendy Higgins, general manager of The Oregon Lodge in Cannon Beach, "Innkeeper of the Year."

The award, presented Oct. 12 during the association's annual conference in Hood River, Ore., honors the outstanding performance, commitment and achievements of Oregon's hospitality industry leaders.

Higgins has been in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. She began her career in the restaurant business and, in 1999, joined the hotel industry.

As The Oregon Lodge's general manager, Higgins emphasizes staff development and for the past two years has coordinated the Oregon Coast Leadership Summit for both the lodge's staff and community members.

"It has been a great tool to developing not only our staff, but it is impacting our community," she said. "I found that when you raise the level of leadership you raise the bar on service."

Higgins and her staff have incorporated what they have learned at the Leadership Summit into The Oregon Lodge's own mission statement, "Go Beyond the Expected - Do the Unexpected."

Higgins is past president of the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Providence Seaside Hospital.

Flint joins ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia as strategy coordinator

ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia has announced the addition of Jay Flint to the program team. Flint was hired as the Columbia Pacific Strategy Coordinator and will work from both the ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia headquarters in Ilwaco, and the Astoria office located at Pier 39.

We are very pleased to be adding Jay Flint to our SBEC team," explained Mike Dickerson, executive vice president with ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia. "His roots in the communities of the lower river and his previous work here make him a great fit for our efforts. In his role as Columbia Pacific strategy coordinator he will be working with all the communities of the lower river, and with our lenders, be identifying opportunities for us to continue to support economic, ecological, and family resilience."

Flint will be responsible for the delivery of targeted strategic activities, lending program outreach, and consulting services to communities of the Lower Columbia.

Prior to joining the ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia team, Flint was the coastal planner for a council of governments, the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce based in Astoria, Oregon. Previously, he was the pro bono program coordinator for Lewis and Clark Law School, a recycling manager for a large manufacturing plant in Portland, Oregon, and a Peace Corps non-governmental association advisor for an environmental non-profit in Poland.

Flint received a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School with an emphasis in environmental, land use and community development law. He received his B.S. in Environmental Science from Oregon State University, where he was a founding member of the Environmental Science Association. Flint was born in Merced, California, and lived for part of his childhood in Astoria.

The Craftsman Bed & Breakfast chosen 'Best in the West'

The Craftsman Bed & Breakfast of Pacific City has been selected as "Best in the West" in the annual Best of BedandBreakfast.com Awards for 2009-2010.

The Best of BedandBreakfast.com Awards are based upon a qualitative and quantitative review of the nearly 50,000 independent reviews submitted to BedandBreakfast.com, the leading online B&B directory and reservation network worldwide.

"It's an honor to be chosen for a Best of BedandBreakfast.com award, and we thank our guests for the positive reviews that resulted in this award," said Michael Rech, The Craftsman Bed & Breakfast's innkeeper.

Built in 1921, The Craftsman Bed & Breakfast is one of Pacific City's oldest homes. The home was renovated in 2005 to include the comforts and conveniences of today, while retaining all the details of the Craftsman era.

New chef joins Tongue Point Job Corps culinary arts program

Chef Robert Whiffen joined the staff of Tongue Point Job Corps Center in late September to head the culinary arts program. 

Certified as an executive chef by the American Culinary Federation, Whiffen has been a chef for more than 20 years and managed hotels for a decade prior to that.  He has been both food and beverage director and executive chef for Chinook Winds Casino, corporate chef for Western Hospitality and corporate executive chef for Radisson Hotels.

Whiffen had been retired since 2006, after leading the culinary program at Angell Job Corps Center in Waldport, Ore., for five years. 

Job Corps is a year-round residential academic and career training program for youths, administered by the Department of Labor. Tongue Point Job Corps Center is one of 123 centers and has 525 students.  Culinary Arts is one of 17 trades taught at Tongue Point.

Seaside Chamber names 2009 award winners

Steve Phillips, owner of Phillips Candy Kitchen in Seaside, was named winner of the 2009 Byron Award at the Seaside Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards breakfast Oct. 9.

The award is presented each year to a member of the Seaside Community who has shown outstanding qualities in community service. It is given to a volunteer who has offered their time and energy for the betterment of Seaside.

Phillips has served as president of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce, president of the Seaside Rotary Club, is a Seaside City Council member and served with the "Trails End Urban District" during the renovation of Broadway.

He also served as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years and served on the Convention Center Commission.

He currently serves on the Providence Seaside Hospital Board, Lighthouse Children's Assessment Center, Rotary Foundation Board, Parks and Airport Committees for the City of Seaside and is chairman and 15-year member of the Seaside School District Board of Directors.

In addition to the Byron Award, five other awards were presented this year: Gary Turel of Seaside Helicopters was named Seaside Chamber of Commerce Business Person of Year, Sandy McDowall was presented a Lifetime Membership Award, and Wayne Poole received a Lifetime Achievement Award.  Two companies, Cleanline Surf Shop and Calcomm Stations Oregon, received Corporate Citizen 2009 awards.

New manager for Hotel Elliott

Damon Schleichert was recently named to the manager's post at the Hotel Elliott in Astoria. He started in his new role on Sept. 1.

Schleichert is an employee of North Pacific Management Inc., a hotel and restaurant management company headquartered in Portland, Ore.

After the departure of longtime manager Brittany Stock, Schleichert said the Elliott's owners made the decision to contract with North Pacific Management for hotel management services.

Schleichert, an 11 year veteran of hospitality and hotel management, was most recently working for a North Pacific property in Southern California. Earlier he spent time managing the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Wash.

"I'm excited to be here," Schleichert said. "The Hotel Elliott is a beautiful hotel."

Schleichert said he plans to focus his efforts on insuring that service is a priority for the hotel.

The Hotel Elliott is located at 357 12th St. in Astoria. For more information call toll free, (877) 378-1924.

Kurrus and Leroux win Iron Chef award at 'Iron Chef Goes Coastal' event

United Way of Clatsop County's second annual "Iron Chef Goes Coastal" event cleared approximately $20,000, surpassing net proceeds from the 2008 event by roughly $7,000.

The event was held Sept. 17 at the Seaside Convention Center. With expanded capacity, Iron Chef Goes Coastal drew a full house, with about 600 people estimated to be in attendance

The evening's events included a silent auction, People's Choice competition, and four local chefs competing in teams of two for the title of Iron Chef. The winning team and top two People's Choice winners return the following year to vie for the title.

The four chefs competing for the Iron Chef title included Chef John Newman of Newman's 988 (Cannon Beach), Lynne "Red" Pelletier of Bridgewater Bistro (Astoria), Chef Alex Kurrus of Astoria Golf and Country Club and Chef Will Leroux of the Wayfarer Restaurant (Cannon Beach).

Kurrus and Leroux were the winning team and will return in 2010 when they will face People's Choice award winners Chef Jonathan Hoffman of Arch Cape Inn and Executive Chef Crystal Corbin of Stephanie Inn (Cannon Beach).

Nine other restaurants competed for the People's Choice award, including Drina Daisy (Astoria), Salvatore's Café (Seaside), Baked Alaska Restaurant & Lounge (Astoria), Shilo Restaurant Seaside Ocean Front, Guido and Vito's (Seaside), Season's Café and Deli (Cannon Beach), Maggie's on the Prom (Seaside), McKeown's (Seaside) and Fort George Brewery and Public House (Astoria).

These restaurants donated the food they prepared and served, and in some cases closed their restaurants for the evening in order to participate in the community fund-raising event. Chef Geoff Gunn of Lumberyard Rotisserie and Grill in Cannon Beach served as the event's emcee.

According to a press release, several organizations and individuals contributed to the success of the event, including U.S. Bank, the event's presenting sponsor; Food Services of America, which donated food for the main competition; and Senator Betsy Johnson, who donated a lamb from Future Farmers of America to the auction.

Proceeds from the 2009 Iron Chef Goes Coastal event, including those from the auction and ticket and beverage sales, will go toward United Way of Clatsop County's 2009-2010 campaign goal of $300,000.

United Way of Clatsop County is governed by a local board of directors and is an affiliate of United Way of America and Associated United Ways of Oregon. All funds raised by United Way of Clatsop County stay in Clatsop County, address local needs, and are distributed annually to the health and human service organizations that UWCC helps support.

Home Depot employees spruce up Astoria's Hilltop Apartments

Employees from Home Depot in Warrenton spent a recent day volunteering their time to paint several housing units at the Hilltop Apartments in Astoria, a housing complex serving low-income residents.

On Sept. 22, 10 "Team Depot" volunteers prepped and painted three of the buildings that make up the housing complex, operated by Clatsop Community Action (CCA).

Through The Home Depot Foundation, the store also donated $5,000 worth of materials and supplies for the project.

The local project was part of Home Depot's September "Celebration of Service," a month-long volunteer effort to mark the company's 30th anniversary.

Store manager Lori Sarancik said employees hoped to complete painting the apartment complex's remaining buildings by the end of October.

 "This is just one of the volunteer projects our employees provide throughout the year as a way to give back to the community," Sarancik told Coast River Business Journal.

Members of the Team Depot involved in the Sept. 22 project were: Dave Blazor, Steve Edwards, Lori Sarancik, Tabitha Brown, Bonnie Buchanan, Dave Isles, Travis Goldade, Denny Holmes, Cheryl Hines and Jackie Harms.

—Greg Cohen

Birdeno earns customer satisfaction award

Adrian Birdeno, an American Family Insurance agent in Astoria, has been recognized for customer satisfaction excellence under the J.D. Power and Associates Distinguished Insurance Agency Program.

This is the fifth year American Family Insurance has applied the Distinguished Insurance Agency criteria to its agents, said Jack Salzwedel, American Family president and chief operating officer.

The service excellence distinction was determined through a two-part evaluation process conducted by J.D. Power. Only agencies that perform in the top 20 percent of all agencies nationwide based on customer satisfaction surveys are eligible to become a Distinguished Insurance Agency.

Madison, Wisc.-based American Family Insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and 14th largest property/casualty insurance group.

Farrell named Cannon Beach Library manager

Peter Farrell, a former reporter and columnist for The Oregonian, has taken the helm as manager of the Cannon Beach Library.

He succeeds Dick Frank, who retired Sept. 30 after five years in the position.

"We were pleased to find someone who is enthusiastic about what the library has accomplished and excited about what we can do in the future," said Jean Furchner, president of the Cannon Beach Library Club, which operates the library as a private organization.

The manager is the library's only paid staff member. About 80 volunteers do all the work necessary to keep the library open 31 hours a week and to sponsor a book club, a series of appearances by Northwest authors, a readers theater, the children's story hour, lectures and other events. The 13,000-volume library, which began operations in 1927, serves beach visitors as well as year-round and part-time residents.

"It is a privilege to be accepted by a group of people who give so much to their neighbors and community," Farrell said.

In 30 years at The Oregonian, Farrell did a variety of editing and reporting jobs and wrote the paper's television column for 13 years. Before coming to Oregon in 1974, he worked for newspapers and a home building trade magazine in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and worked in public relations.

Holmes honored for long time commitment to Clatsop County Fair

Denny Holmes, longtime Clatsop County Fair volunteer and retired manager of the Clatsop County Fair & Expo facility, was recently honored for his service with the naming of the fairgrounds' indoor arena in his honor.

The public unveiling of plaques with the 40,000 square foot building's new name was made at a special presentation during this summer's Clatsop County Fair.

"It was such an honor; it was certainly not something I was ever expecting," Holmes told the Coast River Business Journal.

Holmes began serving as fairgrounds manager in 1985, when the facility was located on a small parcel in downtown Astoria. He was among those who were instrumental in winning voter approval on the third try for a bond measure to build a new fairgrounds on a 109-acre site along the Wallooski River. Construction was completed and the new fairgrounds facility was opened in 1995.

Holmes retired from the fairgrounds in 2003, but remains an active volunteer for the operation.

In 2001, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Oregon Fair Association.

"It's been a great experience; I've loved every minute of it," Holmes said