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The Altona & District Chamber of Commerce handed out its 2015 Awards Thursday night.

About 200 people attended the Annual Awards Banquet held at the Rhineland Pioneer Centre.

While the three individual awards were announced ahead of time, the two Business Excellence Awards were kept secret until they were announced at the end of the banquet.

Pizza Haven received the award for 10 employees or less. Ken and Kim Penner purchased Pizza Haven in 2014 and have just recently expanded the restaurant, adding an additional 18 seats.

Ken credits the employees for their success.

"We couldn't do it without our staff," he said. "I'm constantly trying to improve them, they're trying to improve me and we are working through it together and together we can feed the town pretty well."

Penner notes his family is what drives him to come to work everyday.

Golden West Broadcasting won in the 11 employees or more category. The company, which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2017, has grown to a total of 42 stations and 17 online portals from north-western Ontario across the prairie provinces.

Golden West is involved in many community initiatives, including supporting the expansion of Blue Sky Opportunities.

Mike Linton smallThe event's keynote speaker was Mike Linton, CFO of Dufresne Group

CEO Elmer Hildebrand explained the company's commitment to "doing what is right, right now."

"Basically for us, this is second nature, it's just automatic," he said. "Anything that's useful and needed in the community, we'll get behind and support it and through that process we can grow and the community grows."

Altona Curling Club Manger Terry Peters received the Citizen of the Year Award for his countless volunteer hours with the club, where he has been donating time for the past 19 years. Peters involvement includes behind-the-scenes support as a cook and bartender, helping to organize many special events and fundraisers, including the famous monthly fish fry.

He said the support he's received from the community since his award was announced has been tremendous.

"It's definitely something special. [I've] met many of the previous winners, Citizens of the Years, people that I wouldn't say were mentors to me, but just you looked up to some of the businessmen as you were growing up and to kind of meet them on the street and be on the same sort of level as them...just to shake hands and talk to them one-on-one like you're equals. It is definitely worth something to receive that kind of recognition from them."

WC Miller Grade 12 student Maxine Penner was the winner of the Youth Recognition Award. She volunteers in many areas of her life including church, participation in school programs, and helping out around the community.

Maxine serves on the student council, and is involved in band and choir. She was also a member of the soccer team and drama club and volunteers weekly at the Hopes and Dreams program run through Regional Connections and Altona EMMC.

She had this advice for other youth thinking about getting involved in their community.

"I think in my experiences, I've found sometimes it can be scary and it can be awkward at times but it is so worth it to give a little bit of what you have for the lives of other people because they give so much in return and you are not left empty handed at all."

The Volunteer Recognition Award went to Sandra Klassen for her involvement with the Altona Sunflower Queen Pageant program, which she has coordinated since the fall of 2007. The program has continued to expand with a choreographed fashion show, a contestant mentorship program, and contestants participating in community events and fundraising activities.

Klassen talked about what it felt like to receive the award.

"It's a little overwhelming to know that my girls...nominated me," she said. "It feels wonderful. That I know that what I'm doing is worth it, and I knew that anyway because I see it in their eyes and them onstage and how well they do what they do, so I know that they appreciate it, but to have it actually said out loud and here tonight is pretty overwhelming."

This will be her ninth and final year as the Sunflower Queen Pageant Coordinator.

Altona & District Chamber of Commerce President Jared Barnabe said he was pleased with how the event turned out, with such a young board coming together to make things happen. He noted there are about 140 business that are members of the Chamber.

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