Chehalis Tribe chairman, former mayor, senator honored by Economic Alliance of Lewis County

Economic Alliance of Lewis County holds 41st annual banquet, honors late Alliance member


The Jester Auto Museum and Event Center in Chehalis was packed Friday night with more than 200 local business owners and elected officials for the 41st annual Economic Alliance of Lewis County banquet.

The event featured a dinner, silent and live auctions and an award ceremony honoring those who stood out over the last year with their efforts in business, legislation and conservation, along with one Alliance staff member.

Alliance Executive Director Richard DeBolt explained to those in attendance the recipient of the staff award each year is chosen by the Alliance’s own staff. DeBolt added this year’s recipient would help out wherever needed at the Alliance and kept them focused on fostering economic development in Lewis County.

“We were super excited to give him this award,” DeBolt said.

This year, the Alliance’s Staff Award was given to Charles “Buck” Hubbert, who died on Dec. 6, 2023. Hubbert’s family was in attendance to accept the award on his behalf.

“He also started the Chehalis Industrial Commission and he worked tirelessly to make our community a better place,” DeBolt said. “... We should all strive to have a legacy like Buck Hubbert.”

“I want to thank all of you guys, on behalf of our family, we belong to Lewis County,” Ralph Hubbert, Buck’s son, said. “We came to all of these banquets and everything else, and to look around the room and see all the folks here to carry on the legacy of Lewis County and our community, this doesn’t happen everywhere. But it happens here in Lewis County, so I want to thank all you folks for coming out and doing what you do to make our community better. My dad would’ve loved that.”

DeBolt added that from now on, the Alliance’s Staff Award will now be known as the Buck Hubbert Award.

The Russ Mohney Recreation and Stewardship Award was given to Dustin Klatush, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. Chad Taylor, Alliance board member and owner and publisher of The Chronicle, explained the award was established in 2007 to honor individuals who champion natural resources and environmental stewardship.

The award was named after Russ Mohney, a long-time outdoors writer for The Chronicle who wrote a weekly column titled The Backyard Naturalist.

“Dustin leads a Tribe with a long-standing commitment to preserving natural resources and safeguarding the environment for future generations,” Taylor said.

He added Klatush advocates for the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub along with expanding the Chehalis Tribe’s business initiatives. He recently helped open the Hope and Healing Clinic for those struggling with opioid addiction.

“I just appreciate each and every one of you here tonight, it’s amazing,” Klatush said.

Klatush thanked local legislators in attendance and told them to reach out.

“The Tribe’s here to help each and every one of you guys out also,” Klatush added.

The Community Commitment Award went to former Chehalis Mayor Fred Rider. DeBolt said Rider had also been on a number of other municipal governing bodies and commissions along with being a local Rotarian, president of the Washington State Snowmobile Association and the Lewis County Demolition Derby Association, among many other hats Rider wears.

“The reason he belongs to all those clubs … is because those people need a place to go, and if people don’t join, then those disappear,” DeBolt said.

He added that Rider was also the reason DeBolt ended up in Lewis County as he hired him to be the Chamber of Commerce director at 26 years old.

“I did hire Richard. I was inspirational in doing that,” Rider joked.

Rider stated he also supported DeBolt when he decided to run for the Legislature and thanked DeBolt for his work in the county.

“It’s about the people that made me,” Rider said.

The final award of the evening was the Gail & Carolyn Shaw Industry Award, which was given to Washington state 20th District Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia.

“His business (Braun Northwest), you can see it across the freeway, is a world leader,” Greg Lund said. “They ship their vehicles around the globe and they are well respected and have been in our community since the 80s.”

Lund added Braun was also a captain in the U.S. Navy and currently is state Senate minority leader.

“I had a chance to work a little bit with Gail some years ago, and she was a great member of our community,” Braun said. “And with everybody that’s gotten this award, I’m very humbled to be part of that group.”