Oldtimers, newcomers in the spotlight at Crawford chamber's awards potluck

By Randy Sunderland


More than 80 folks turned out Saturday, Feb. 3, for the annual Old Timers, Newcombers Potluck hosted by the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce. A celebration of community, the event is also a night of awards to local businesses, non-profits, teachers and volunteers.

The newest member of the community to attend was Mike Weigel, who became a resident 11 days before the potluck. He was awarded a wooden Crawford poster donated by Crawford Country Keepsakes.

On the other side of the spectrum, Pat Bennett was recognized as the Oldtimer, having called Crawford home for 63 years. She received two cups, also donated by Crawford Country Keepsakes.

The Business of the Year was awarded to the Desperado. In 2005 Bonnie Cotten Hess and Jerry Hess, along with Misty and Gary Hess, came to Crawford looking for a home and a job. What they found was the foundation of a burned down building, and from there they built up a business. The Desperado offers gas, groceries, sporting goods, liquor and many other necessities.

A new award for 2018, the Teacher of the Year was presented to Cami Bair. She has been teaching in the North Fork Valley since 2000, the same year the North Fork Community Montessori began operating. Bair was praised for her hard work and dedication to her students. She is often visited by former students, greeting her with a big hug.

The Crawford Fire Auxiliary was named the Non-Profit of the Year. The brainchild of Hazel Clark and Orpha Albright 41 years ago, the auxiliary was formed to help the firemen when called out to a fire, and to help the victims of these fires. Over the years this group of volunteers has produced three cookbooks and hosted countless fundraising events. They are the "boot people" for the annual fireworks display at Crawford State Park as part of Pioneer Days.

Last year's display cost $9,000 and it is only through the generous donations that the auxiliary is able to bring the only fireworks display to the North Fork Valley.

The group also raised more than $17,000 to help fund a bathroom at the fire station so the firemen would not take potentially contaminated clothing home.

The auxiliary board was introduced, including president Tristan Pfeffer, vice president Cathy Cheatham, secretary Merri Britt, treasurer Donna Cochran and board members Carol Inman, LaVerne Love, Candy Nyholm and Liz Heidrick.

It was noted the fire department consists of only 10 firefighters and are in desperate need of more volunteers.

Tristan Pfeffer was named the Volunteer of the Year. She and her husband, Lee, moved to Crawford in 2012 just in time to attend the Pioneer Days. They quickly felt welcome to the community, and soon were involved in many ways. Tristan was praised for her boundless energy and deep love for Crawford. She has served a president for many organizations, and helped organize the chamber's "Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Night.

After the event, chamber secretary Collenette Vervloet said, "It was great fun . . . hearing all the stories people shared about their lives during the open mic portion of this event is always favorite." She also thanked all of the award recipients, noting, "These folks work hard to give back in this community and our lives are more enriched."