For the first time ever, two people have been jointly named Hay River Citizen of the Year.
This year’s winners are Linda Carter and Sheila Cook, two longtime friends who have joined forces on many worthy projects, and also worked separately for various causes and events.
Mayor Brad Mapes called them a “dynamic duo” in presenting the honour at the April 8 annual gala of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce.
“These two ladies have lived and breathed their lives in promoting our community,” he said, adding their efforts help make Hay River a better place for those who live here and more attractive for potential residents.
Mapes listed a number of initiatives on which they have joined forces, including the Fall Fair committee and the Hay River Homecoming.
“We’re blessed to have these two ladies reside in our community,” he said.
Only Cook, a retired teacher, was at the gala to receive the award, although she wasn’t aware she was to be named one of the recipients until the announcement.
“I was shocked actually,” she said.
“It’s an honour,” she added of the award she will share with Carter. “We’ve been friends since we were in Grade 2 and we work well together. We have lots of fun and we enjoy doing things to promote Hay River and help Hay River.”
Carter was out of town and therefore not present to also be surprised by the award.
Two other awards were presented at the gala by the Hay River Chamber of Commerce.
Ring’s Pharmacy was named Business of the Year.
In presenting the award, Jane Groenewegen, the new president of the chamber, called Ring’s Pharmacy a mainstay of Hay River’s business community for more than 50 years.
Larry and Gayle Ring, a brother and sister who own the business with another brother Les Ring, were on hand to receive the honour.
Larry Ring said he was very humbled.
“You don’t go to work every day to think about an award,” he said. “It’s not even in my makeup or how I go about my job at all. It was nice.”
Ring actually described the recognition as a community award.
“It’s not an individual award because if we don’t have customers and the community supporting us, we don’t have a business,” he explained. “So it really isn’t about an individual or a business. To me, it’s about Hay River and it shows the support of Hay River.”
Ring said his parents laid a foundation of customer service, beginning when the family entered the pharmacy business in 1961 in Fort Smith and continuing on when they relocated to Hay River in 1963.
The final award of the gala – the Customer Service Award of Excellence – went to Gloria Shaule and Harvey Shaule, the managers of Hay River Suites.
“I was very shocked,” said Gloria Shaule of being honoured. “Basically, we just treat people the way we’d like to be treated.”
She added it was wonderful to receive the award.
Harvey Shaule said it was quite a recognition, and credited that to the town being pleased with the renovation of what was commonly known as Brown Town into the Hay River Suites.
“Here it is a new place all over again,” he said. “The whole town is happy about it.”
The award was presented to the Shaules by Kari Mander, the branch manager of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Hay River.
“The two people go above and beyond for their clients and their staff,” said Mander of the Shaules. “They treat everybody that they come into contact with like family. They manage the business that they don’t own like their own, and they take great pride in their customer service.”