January 23, 2019IMLAY CITY — It was brutally cold outside Saturday night, Jan. 19, but warm and cozy inside Countryside Banquet Center, where the Imlay City Chamber of Commerce and guests dined, danced and honored some of the community's most outstanding citizens.
The occasion was the Chamber's 2019 Dinner-Dance, which featured fine cuisine, live entertainment and the presentation of the 2018 Citizen of the Year, Merit Award and Organization of the Year awards.
This year's recipients were Julie Salsido, Citizen of the Year; Doug Halabicky, Merit Award; and Vlasic Foods, Organization of the Year.
Following hors d'oeuvres and friendly conversation to break the ice, event attendees were welcomed by newly-elected Chamber of Commerce President, Barb Yockey, and Shannon Hamel, Chamber Event Coordinator.
The Citizen of the Year award was presented by past Imlay City Mayor Walt Bargen, who acknowledged Julie Salsido for her many years of support to the former Imlay City Blueberry Festival and its successor, the Michigan Busker Festival.
Bargen reminded that Salsido had served as his Blueberry Festival co-chairperson for many years; while additionally devoting her time and energy to the annual festival auction and as a volunteer at the Eastern Michigan Fair and Family Literacy Center of Lapeer County.
Salsido, who was joined at the event by her daughter, Noelle; sister, Sharon; and brother, Dennis; expressed pride in the community and appreciation to the Chamber Board.
Doug Halabicky was presented his Merit Award by Chamber Vice President Rob Mette, who spoke of the 2019 recipient's generosity and spirit of giving back to the community.
Halabicky, who was joined by his wife, Holly, reciprocated with accolades of his own for the community of Imlay City.
"I love Imlay City and I am honored to be here tonight," said Halabicky, who operates a State Farm Insurance Agency in downtown Imlay City.
Pinnacle-Vlasic Foods was honored as the Chamber's Organization of the Year for the second time in recent years; the first being in 2012.
Accepting the award from Chamber Past-President John Powell was Vlasic representative Melanie Lindquist, who recently completed a term on the Imlay City Chamber of Commerce Board.
82nd District State Rep. Gary Howell and State Senator Kevin Daley of the 31st District were also on hand to recognize the winners.
Dinner was provided by the banquet center staff, while live music was presented by Remix, performing popular hits from the past and present.
Event Coordinator Shannon Hamel was happy with the turnout—given the snow and frigid temps—and festive spirit shared among the attendees.
"I want to offer a big thank you to everyone that came out to our Chamber Gala," said Hamel. "We celebrated some outstanding award winners and were able to spend a great evening together with our local business people, friends and neighbors."
Hamel also credited event sponsors Mette Financial Group, Doug Halabicky State Farm, Peaceful Moon Yoga, Tiana's Dollars and Deals, North Branch Rental, Kapala Heating & Air Conditioning for their generosity.
She extended special thanks to Countryside Banquet Center, Page
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"It was a great night with great people, great food and drinks," Hamel said. "It was nice seeing people 'cut a rug' to the live band Remix, and seeing old friends.
"It looked like everyone, including myself, had a wonderful time," she said. "We hope to see everyone next year."
Auction is March 2
Hamel noted that the annual Chamber Dinner-Dance is the precursor to the organization's 2019 "Busker Fest Auction" scheduled for Saturday, March 2 at Castle Creek Golf Club in Lum.
Doors will open at 5 p.m., followed by a silent auction and traditional live auction presented by Rowley Auctioneer Services.
Anyone wishing to donate items for the Busker Fest Auction may call the Chamber office at 810-724-1361, or contact Shannon Hamel directly at 810-542-3256.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.