A life-saving hero and a community leader were both celebrated last week, at the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting.
“Blake has been described as a hero,” local Chamber of Commerce treasurer Terry Hale said, introducing the citizen of the year, Blake Sprague.
Sprague is a marine engineer with the Coast Guard, and like all members of the Coast Guard is a certified first responder.
He put his training to good use, last year, when he saved Lake Cowichan resident Chris LeBoulch’s life.
As Hale told the impressed crowd, Sprague overheard the sound of someone yelling “aw, frick!” at a construction site in Honeymoon Bay, last year. Sprague investigated, assuming it to be a minor incident, such as someone hitting them self with a hammer.
Instead, he found LeBoulch, with a three-and-a-half-inch spiral nail sticking into the middle of his chest, moving with his heartbeat.
Sprague stayed with LeBoulch, making sure he remained stable until the Honeymoon Bay Fire Department arrived.
The Citizen of the Year recipient was unavailable to receive his award in person, during the Thursday, February 24 Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting. He was working in Bamfield, BC, so he accepted the prestigious award through the internet program Skype.
“I’m surprised, I can tell you that,” Sprague said, upon hearing the news.
The hero had been expecting to talk with someone else on Skype, and had no idea that he was about to talk to a room full of congratulatory people.
The next award to be announced was the Nichole Stock Community Service Award, named after the girl who pioneered the very successful annual penny drive.
Local baseball coach Micah Anderson was named the recipient. He was recognized for his 15 years of teaching various levels of baseball, capped off by last year’s Coach of the Year award.
The local Mosquito League baseball team he coached this past year managed to place second in 2010’s Provincial Championships.
“This is just great, but it’s not just me,” Anderson said, upon receiving the award. “It takes a lot of support, and that’s a big part of sports.”
Parents, and the kids themselves, are critical components, he said, and have all been great.
Another great community leader was recognized posthumously, when a minute of silence was awarded for lifetime member Barry Volkers, who died recently.
During the Annual General Meeting portion of the chamber meeting, membership chair Rita Dustow cited a drop in membership this year, from 130 in 2010 to only 92 this year.
Of these members, seven are new, and one has returned after an absence. Many members have chosen to not renew their membership.
“Support from our local business is critical,” she said.
“If we don’t stand united together, divided we fall,” Humphrey said. “It’s sad.”
A few members that Humphrey thanked in particular for being at the meeting were local are politicians from all three Cowichan Lake political areas.
From a financial point of view, despite the drop in membership, things are going well.
The 2011 operating budget has a total revenue and expenses of $93,625.
Net assets by the end of 2010 were $70,979.
During the meeting, a new committee was elected.
“This is without a doubt one of the best boards I’ve served with,” Humphrey said, of this past year’s board.
In addition to existing members Jim Humphrey, Pat Weaver, Terry Hale, Penny Lindquist, and Matt Heyne, six additional members were re-elected or elected, filling out the board to 11 of its possible 12 spots.
Newly elected or re-elected include Maureen Coulter, Joseph Cullen, Rita Dustow, Bruce Ingram, Ron McKenzie, and Sandy Stinson.
During her report, Programs and Events chair Pat Weaver announced the theme of this year’s Spring Fling chamber fund-raiser to be Mardis Gras Masquerade.
With the chamber’s vice president Bruce Ingram out of town, treasurer Terry Hale gave a brief report on the Cowichan Lake Economic Advisory Network, which Ingram chairs.
“We believe we’re at the start of something great happening,” he said. “We are open for business.”
This sentiment has been spread around through pamphlets mailed out to hundreds of people, advertising a pellet plant business opportunity at Cowichan Lake.
A multitude of other ideas are being considered to bring industry into the Cowichan Lake area.
“The Cowichan Lake area is about to turn a corner, and things are going to be good here,” he said.