Youth, athletics are benefits of volunteerism

By R.J. Marx

Seaside Signal

Before the speeches began at Tuesday’s Seaside Chamber of Commerce awards banquet, Executive Director Brian Owen sent a shout-out to the Seaside Seagulls as the varsity boys sought to extend their undefeated record on the court against rival Valley Catholic.

The link to student athletics was especially appropriate as the chamber presented its vaunted Byron Award — named after longtime volunteer Byron Meek — to Ed Rippet, an organizer of the student athletic program Seaside Kids.

Fred Loser, recipient of the 2015 award, presented the honor.

“Seaside Kids originated from the business people in Seaside,” Rippet said in his acceptance speech. “They came up with so much money that they had enough leftover after they flew them to California to form the nonprofit Seaside Kids. Until this day, we are the only program that we know of in the state of Oregon where kids can play free. That’s because of your contributions.”

The chamber honored Seaside’s Bank of the Pacific as business of the year and Sadie Mercer of Maggie’s on the Prom as board member of the year. Chuck Miner received the chamber ambassador of the year honors and Terry Lowenberg of Beach Development received the Building Block Award for providing construction jobs and opportunities. Cheryle Barker received a life member award; Reita Fackerell was named volunteer of the year.

Incoming chamber president Stacey Brown, operations and dispatch supervisor for the Seaside Police Department, celebrated the chamber’s accomplishments.

“The primary goal is to help businesses network and grow, and I think we rock at that,” Brown said. “Whether you’re an emerging small business experiencing growth pains, or a longtime business with solid roots, we want you to think of us as your proactive business partners.”

Engagement is key, Brown said.

Last year, Brian Owen was hired as executive director, a new phone system installed, email and database upgrades put in place and the chamber office remodeled, Brown said. USA Footvolley — a burgeoning international sport — arrived in Seaside for the first time with chamber participation. A multiyear agreement was signed with the Hood to Coast relay and new directors hired to run the chamber’s long-running Seaside Beach Volleyball tournament.

“What an improvement,” she said. “It’s really been a plus.”

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