Street Honored for Community Stewardship

By Beacon Staff

The Street family has a rich history in the Flathead Valley dating back to a homestead north of Kalispell almost 130 years ago.

Today one of the family’s descendants, Robin Street, is helping keep generations of farming tradition alive from the original acreage that hugs the Whitefish River. He has donated sections of his family’s land for a public fishing pond.

Recognizing this legacy of stewardship, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce last week awarded Street the oldest and most prestigious honor in the community, the Great Chief Award. Street is the 41st recipient and is the latest resident to be recognized for helping improve the community through civic and volunteer efforts.

The announcement came at this year’s 108th annual chamber banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn on Nov. 8. The resounding message of the evening centered on the improving economic climate in the valley thanks to popular new events such as the Dragon Boat Festival and the efforts of the business community and local industries. This year’s theme was “Building it Better in the Flathead.”

Lisa Brown, the general manager of the Red Lion Hotel, was named the Chamber’s Member of the Year. Brown is a founding member of the Kalispell Business Improvement District.

“She is a major supporter of tourism and downtown,” her award read. “Lisa is always ready with a special prize or gift or anything that will help to make a special project a big success.”

Jim Ness, a senior vice president of Glacier Bank, was named Businessman of the Year. Ness has served as longtime chairman of the Kalispell Downtown Association.

“Jim is always ready to lend a hand to whatever community project needs help,” his award read.

Ness will become the Chamber’s board chairman starting next year.

Melanie Cross, the founder and owner of Camas Creek Yarn and Camas Creek Flathead in downtown Kalispell, was named the Businesswoman of the Year. Cross has served on the board on of the Downtown Business Improvement District.

“An innovative businesswoman, Melanie recently launched a national licensing program with 100 colleges and universities for school logo knitting kits,” her award noted.

The first-ever Dragon Boat Festival, held at Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork in September, was named the Chamber’s Project of the Year. The festival drew 4,400 people, and 34 percent were from out of market, according to an economic analysis of the event. The research found $770,000 was invested into the Flathead Valley thanks to the festival. Of spectators and participants who were surveyed, 97 percent said they would return. Next year’s festival is already being grown into a two-day event and organizers expect more than 80 teams to participate, compared to 56 this year.

Hoping to follow that success, two other signature events are also in the works. The Spartan Race, an obstacle course challenge for all ages, is slated to hold its first event in the Flathead Valley in May. The four-mile race is scheduled for May 11-12. Registration is open until May 9.

Kalispell has also bid on a Thunderbird Air Show for the summer and the city will find out if it will host the event next month.

Both events are being spearheaded by a $5 million tourism campaign.

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