The Lewis Economic Development Council held its 36th annual banquet Thursday evening, where it presented two awards to people who have done outstanding work in the community over the last year, and honored a third.

Ralph Hubbert received this year’s Gail & Carolyn Shaw Industry Award. He is part owner of Jester Auto Museum & Event Center, owns the Chehalis Theatre, has been on the Lewis EDC board for the past 15 years and on the executive committee for the last 10.

“My vision is down the road we need to be ready for Lewis County,” Ralph Hubbert said. “Seattle and Portland (are) moving in this way. We need to all continue to work together and make things happen, and be ready, and be in control of the growth of Lewis County, so we can keep our charm, but also expand and (have) more jobs and more housing. We know we (have) got a lot of challenges ahead of us. … (I) look forward to seeing the vision in the next five years.”

Buck Hubbert is both Ralph Hubbert’s father and a past recipient of the Gail & Carolyn Shaw Industry Award. He presented the award Thursday.

“This is the first time, but I know it’s not the last looking around, that two members of the family were awarded the Gail and Carolyn Shaw award,” Buck Hubbert said.

Both Hubberts said Gail Shaw was a mentor to them.

“He was a great mentor to a lot of people in the community,” Ralph Hubbert said. “To get that award is very, very special to me.”

The Lewis EDC’s 36th Annual Banquet took place at Jester Auto Museum & Event Center in Chehalis. Board Chair Dan Rich delivered the welcome address, and announced the 2019 board members.

Lewis EDC Executive Director Matt Matayoshi gave the Lewis EDC annual report, and highlighted projects the organization has participated in during 2018. Some of the projects included the Smart Tank competition, a waterline extension along SR 505 toward the Benaroya Industrial Site near Winlock and numerous projects that were funded by the Centralia Coal Transition Board, which awards grants from TransAlta to entities in Lewis and South Thurston counties.

Centralia College President Bob Mohrbacher also gave a presentation on projects at Centralia College in the last year.

In addition to the Gail & Carolyn Shaw Industry Award, the Lewis EDC typically presents two other awards annually: The Russ Mohney Recreation Resource Stewardship Award in conjunction with The Chronicle and the Economic Development Leadership Award.

Michael Wagar, publisher of The Chronicle and president of parent company Lafromboise Communications, spoke about the Russ Mohney Recreation Resource Stewardship Award. No one received the award this year, but Wagar discussed the award’s origins.

Russ Mohney was a longtime columnist at The Chronicle and also worked at Centralia College. The award is “to recognize people or groups who advocate for conservation of natural resources and enjoyment of the outdoors.”

Wagar said that when a specific name or organization didn’t pop up this year, Matayoshi suggested Wagar discuss outdoor reporting The Chronicle has done.

Chronicle reporter Jordan Nailon received the 2018 Dolly Connelly excellence-in-environmental journalism award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for his extensive coverage on a ring of poachers in Southwest Washington. Member newspapers of all sizes from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Utah, Alberta and British Columbia are eligible to submit work for the award.

“He started that story and without him I don’t think it would have happened, but it was picked up by The Seattle Times, it was picked up by everybody — it was a big story,” Wagar said.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia City councilor and Centralia College Foundation board president, received the Economic Development Leadership Award for his work with the Lewis EDC in 2018, specifically with the Smart Tank competition.

“Peter Abbarno really stepped up to be there and serve not only through the event, but also following the event and really connected with our participants” Matayoshi said. “... (He) has become a champion of this program and event, not only as a community member, but also in his position as a member of the Centralia College Foundation.”  

Ralph Hubbert received the final award for his contributions to Lewis County.

“When they started that award, my dad was like the second person to receive that and I knew Gail and Carolyn,” said Hubbert, as numerous people came to shake his hand after the announcement. “I knew Gail and I really looked up to him. Gail actually got me on a lot of boards and involved with some stuff when I was younger. … He was just always so full of energy and everything else and when you would go to meetings and stuff, you would get so excited and energized when Gail spoke. He did so many great things for our community — it’s an honor to receive the award.”

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