Our Laguna: Chamber hands out Spirit Awards

January 31, 2013|By Barbara Diamond
  • Winners of the 2013 Spirit Awards, which the Chamber of Commerce presented to recipients Jan. 25.
Winners of the 2013 Spirit Awards, which the Chamber of… (Courtesy Chamber…)

Waste Management's Michelle Clark may not be ready to quit her daytime job for a gig as a stand-up comic, but she sure knows how to get laughs.

Clark served as mistress of ceremonies at the Chamber of Commerce Spirit Awards and 96th annual board installation, held Jan. 25 at Tivoli Too, and she had the audience in snickers, if not stitches. Ganahl Lumber Sales Manager Jerry Perez played straight man for Clark's off-the-cuff commentary about the nominees and anyone else who came into the line of sight.

"All the nominees are winners," Clark said, in one of her few serious moments at the podium.

Gregg Abel's construction and design company was honored as the Building Industry of Year.

Abel's company has been in operation since 1986. The Abel family has made its mark on the town since 1935, with many buildings designed by the late architect Chris Abel.

The Laguna Beach Community Foundation was named Nonprofit of the Year. The foundation provides expertise and resources to help local nonprofits connect with donors — not to mention distributing more than $94,000 in grants in 2012.


Board President Laura Tarbox accepted the award on behalf of the foundation.

Chamber worker bee Luciano Stefanini won the Volunteer of the Year Award, recognized for his myriad services to Chamber Executive Director Kristine Thalman.

Former Mayor Jane Egly and retired Judge Paul Egly were voted the Harry Lawrence Citizens of the Year Award, named for the late Harry Lawrence, whose contributions to the city included the renaissance of a near-moribund chamber after World War II.

Laguna Beach County Water District General Manager Renae Hinchey and Commissioner Debbie Neev accepted the award for the Green Industry of the Year. The district was honored for its successful campaign to reduce water use in town, and its innovative moves to ensure an adequate supply of water in the future.

Nick's of Laguna Beach was named Restaurant of the Year.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson, a force behind the Business Assistance Task Force, was voted Government Official of the Year. Pearson and Councilwoman Toni Iseman sponsored a bill that resulted in a much-appreciated grant to the chamber.

Monica Tuchscher was honored as the City Professional of the Year. But nominee Fire Chief Jeff La Tendresse received a special mention from Clark.

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