By Starrla Cray
WATERTOWN, MN The Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce is made up of many dedicated businesses, organizations, and individuals, but only a select few were chosen to receive awards at Wednesday’s chamber meeting.
Bruce Johnson, a sales representative at Herald Journal Publishing, was named 2009 chamber member of the year. Watertown-Mayer School District was selected as the business of the year, and Abbie McDonald was congratulated for her service as the chamber’s 2009 president.
Bruce Johnson has been a chamber member for over a decade, and has made countless contributions to the organization and surrounding businesses.
“He has made a lot of sacrifices and commitments, not only of his time, but also financially,” chamber president Kyle McDonough said.
Johnson, who recently broke his hip, joked that he won the award because of a “sympathy vote.”
However, Johnson’s dedication to the chamber suggests otherwise.
“I enjoy working with the chamber members and the committees on promotional events such as Paul Diethelm’s Rock n’ Roll Christmas Extravaganza,” he said.
Johnson has also worked to help more businesses become involved in the chamber.
“We, as a chamber, added the word ‘area’ to the name this year to show that we welcome members from a wide area around Watertown,” he said.
Johnson said he would like to thank the chamber for selecting him as member of the year.
“I, along with Herald Journal, am looking forward to a long-term relationship with the Watertown chamber,” he said.
Johnson and his wife, Helen, live in the country between Watertown and New Germany.
WM School District
“At first, it might sound kind of crazy to name a school as our business of the year, but we have to take a look at what they do,” past chamber president Abbie McDonald said. “They’ve been very actively involved in the community, and they help us out a great deal.”
“As the largest employer in the community, we feel we should take an active part,” said Kyle McDonough, the school’s director of operations.
There are many opportunities for the district to get involved.
The school’s ecology club helps with recycling efforts in the community, while other students volunteer with community dinners and Rails to Trails. Participants in the school’s Journeys Program also help with chamber and community events.
“The program helps students develop skills to interact with the public,” McDonough said.
The staff at Watertown-Mayer School District also works to promote downtown holiday events and community get-togethers.
“It’s kind of an endless stream of things that the students and staff all get involved in,” McDonough said.
Abbie McDonald describes her service as 2009 president of the Watertown Chamber of Commerce as a “privilege.”
“It’s a new way to look at the community, as well as all the business and people in it,” she said.
McDonald has been a chamber member since she became the administrator at Elim Rehab and Nursing Home in Watertown in 1996.
“We are the second largest employer in Watertown,” McDonald said. Being part of the chamber is a good way for businesses to get to know one other, she added.
McDonald served her first term as president in 2001.
“It’s really a three-year commitment,” she said.
The first year of service is spent as the vice president, the second as the president, and the third as support for the new president.
As chamber president, McDonald was responsible for conducting meetings and helping to plan speakers, meals, and events.
“It’s a shared responsibility in many respects,” she said, explaining that she worked closely with the chamber secretary and other officials.
McDonald and her husband, Philip “Flip,” live between Winsted and Watertown.