Whitefish Chamber of Commerce Hands Out Community Awards

By Beacon Staff

The following awards were presented at the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Award Banquet last earlier this month at Grouse Mountain Lodge.

Great Whitefish Award was awarded to June Munski-Feenan (North Valley Food Bank). This award recognizes and honors one person’s lifetime contributions to our community.

Here’s what the Chamber had to say about June’s amazing efforts:

The origin of Whitefish’s food bank can be traced to the garage of June Munski-Feenan in 1977. Initially, June and a few good friends collected only breads, fresh produce and limited amounts of canned goods and made them available for people to come by to pick up.

Today, the food bank now lends a hand up to more than 7,000 families a year, with more than 70 percent of donations going directly to families in Whitefish. The organization relies 100 percent on unpaid volunteers, with Now in her 80’s – June tirelessly donating her time as the director, as she has for 30 years.

June is famous in Whitefish for her networking ability and finding innovative ways to get things done. For example, the North Valley Food Bank is the only food bank in the state that processes wild game. And, with her leadership – the Food Bank is currently working on a NEW and enhanced facility next to the WAVE which will provide much needed space, storage and preparation to serve our growing community.

Citizen of the Year Award was awarded to Mr. Paul Johannsen. This award is given annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the betterment of Whitefish, with no expectation of person financial gain.

Here’s what the Chamber said about Mr. Johannsen:

A fourth generation Montanan, Paul Johannsen was raised in North Central Montana on a wheat farm just south of the Canadian border. He attended high school in Sunburst and then Montana State University. After college, Paul worked for the Farm Credit System in Bozeman and Missoula, then First Bank/US Bank and First Interstate Bank in Missoula. The opportunity for Paul and his wife Teddi to move to Whitefish was a chance to get their family back to the small town roots with which they had grown up so in 2003, they moved with son Jordan and daughter Cassi when Paul became the President of First Interstate Bank.

In 2006, Paul left the banking industry to become the Managing Member of Great Northern Ventures LLC, a real estate development company. He is also the Managing Partner of National Parks Realty of Whitefish LLC. Paul has served on several local boards including the Whitefish Community Foundation, Whitefish Lake Golf Club, Flathead County Economic Development Authority, North Valley Hospital Foundation and Bulldog Boosters. He has also been active in fundraising for the Memorial Field Stadium and the 2008 High School Bond Committee.

Most recently, Paul served as the Chair of the Whitefish Winter Carnival Committee and with his leadership, proved to be one of the best events in our history!

Business of the Year Award was awarded to North Valley Hospital. This award is given annual to a business that leads by example, contributing to the well-being of the community though job creation, public service, philanthropy and/or volunteerism.

Here’s the Chamber’s description of North Valley Hospital:

As a community-based hospital, North Valley Hospital believes in supporting and partnering with area non-profits to help strengthen the health and well-being of those we have the honor of serving. Complementing their mission, ‘To be the center of healing for the communities we serve’, they gave over $287,000 in tangible and in-kind support during FY 2011 to a wide variety of organizations and causes including an athletic trainer in the Whitefish school district, Relay for Life, Save a Sister Initiative, Flathead Industries and Special Olympics, among many others. Helping patients with transportation to get needed medical care, we support ALERT Helicopter, Wings Cancer Support Group, For the Children and the Flathead County Agency on Aging/Eagle Transit program.

North Valley Hospital “grew up” with the community of Whitefish. Now it serves a widening area from the Canadian border throughout the Flathead Valley and beyond. They believe in being a good community partner, a model of wellness and a leader in responding to community needs. Their staff is encouraged to participate themselves, and donate time and resources that make our community a better place to live. Some of their endeavors include volunteering as clinical or lay professionals at the Shepherd’s Hand Clinic, contributing to Thanksgiving baskets and food drives for local families, providing first aid at school sporting events, offering medical and educational services to local schools and businesses, or serving on civic boards.”

Tourism Business of the Year Award was awarded to Whitefish Lake Golf Association. This award is given annually to a business that contributes to the continued development of the town’s tourism industry, while also exhibiting the characteristics described for “Business of the Year” above.

It all started in the late 1920’s, when several Whitefish residents bought 104 acres of land west of Whitefish for $1,600 so that they could build a golf course. These hard working people had cleared the land for what was to become fairway number one and two as well as part of number three (present woods nine) when one of the local politicians came up with a program whereby grants could be received for municipalities to build emergency landing fields. The City then applied for and received the grant to build the golf course / landing field. The property owners, golfers, donated the land to the County on October 29, 1933 which then transferred it to the City of Whitefish on Jan. 15, 1934 with the stipulation that it would become a golf course for local golfers and double as an emergency landing strip. This was accomplished in 1935 with the funding coming via the WPA, which also built the Log Clubhouse / terminal finishing that project in 1937.

Throughout all of the time it has taken to build the Whitefish Lake Golf Course into the only 36-hole complex in Montana, the Golf Association and their Board of Directors, have always operated on a volunteer basis. All of the monies generated from the operations have been put back into course improvement, equipment, other capital expenses or paid out to the City of Whitefish as Lease payments. At no time in the history of the golf course development or improvements has taxpayer money been used to for the golf course.

The goal of the Association is to continue its cooperative relationship with the City of Whitefish, while maintaining the highest quality golf facility at an affordable price for local golfers. A byproduct of the all this growth and development of golf opportunity is the attraction of countless tourists to our area to play our golf course and take advantage of other attractions in the area.

Volunteer of the Year Award was awarded to Mr. Scott Skerlock. This award is given annually to a community member who has gone above-and-beyond the call of duty, volunteering his-or-her time, effort and resources to assist the Chamber and its member businesses. This person is chosen by the Chamber’s Executive Director, Mr. Kevin Gartland.

Ambassador of the Year Award was awarded to Mr. David Boye. This award is given annually to a Chamber Ambassador whose contributions best represented the Chamber and the spirit of volunteerism within our organization. This person is selected by their Ambassador peers.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.