An Individual who has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to advance the vitality and well-being of the community throughout the years.
Pete’s memory and love for Osceola goes back to when he was student at the country school on County Road M. One of the biggest treats Pete and his friends had then was to come to the big town of Osceola. If Pete had been a good boy, he might even get a dime to go see a movie at the Star Theater while his parents shopped at Kochs or Gambles and perhaps enjoyed an adult beverage at PYs or the Cascade. As a kid Pete also remembers going to Braves baseball games and chasing foul balls just as kids do today.
Pete graduated Osceola High School in 1956 and became a forever Chieftain. Pete married Diane (the love of his life) in 1961. Their three children and now two grandchildren also call Osceola High School their alma mater.
Pete’s has worn many hats in his life. He has been: transportation director for the Osceola School District; owner/operator of the Pizza Cellar and Mainstreeter Café in downtown Osceola (with Diane); school board member for Osceola Schools; 8th grade football coach for Osceola and videographer for Chieftain football games.
Do you see a pattern here? Yes, most of his activities include working with the Osceola community and Osceola students.
Pete sums it up perfectly: “We had a great town in the 40s. We have a great town today. Gambles may be gone but now we have Bill’s Ace Hardware. Kochs may be gone but now we have Dick’s Fresh Market. Prosper Young is gone but now we have Steve Johnson. Town stores change, owners change, buildings change. What makes Osceola special is HEART and that has never changed.”
Business of the Year
Individuals have conducted their business in such a way as to distinguish themselves in an extraordinary way and to make a significant contribution to the community.
On November 15th, 1950, Miss Beatrice Engh, an Osceola High School teacher, submitted the winning name of “Trollhaugen” to the local ski area and won $10.00. In 1967, two practicing dentists from St. Paul, MN purchased Trollhaugen and hired 17-year-old James Stephen Rochford (better known as JR). Working summers and weekends, JR learned the ski business inside and out. Trollhaugen celebrated its 50th year in business in 2017 and is now known as one of the most distinguished ski/snowboard areas in the Midwest. JR estimates that over 4.5 million people have enjoyed Trollhaugen’s various ventures since 1950.
Many changes have occurred over the years: updates to buildings, lifts, and offices and new construction of a snowtubing facility, convention center, summer zip Lines and the largest aerial challenge course in the Upper Midwest. Trollhaugen has also hosted the Memorial Mud Run for 50 years.
Trollhaugen employs over 400 seasonal staff each year, many of which are first jobs for local high schoolers. Several employees have stayed for 30 years. The business offers heavily discounted lesson programs to all 5th grade school classes that visit. Trollhaugen donates over $50,000 in lift tickets to charitable organizations each season and partners with Courage Kenny to host weekly ski outings in January and February for participants with disabilities and special needs. The Rochford family has donated the property where the Dresser Fire Station is located.
We celebrate 50 years of business with the Rochford family and thank you heartily for your contributions to our communities. Best wishes for your next 50 years as well!
Non-Profit of the Year
Organization that shows outstanding support for the Greater Osceola area through contributions and support of the community.
Wild River Fitness
Wild River Fitness is part of Osceola’s health care campus which includes the medical center, senior housing and a public fitness trail. The fitness center is complete with a full line of state-of-the-art cardio, strength and free-weight fitness equipment, as well as separate group exercise rooms for fitness classes. Classes and services are provided for all age groups. Scholarships are available for members who need financial assistance.
The center was established in 2003 by a group of local fitness enthusiasts and the YMCA of Greater St Paul. The Osceola Medical Center took over operations and Wild River Fitness opened its doors in a new 16,000 square foot facility in February 2012.
Most of their 30+ staff consists of volunteers.
Wild River’s philosophy is “success is simple, really: healthy living, healthy lifestyles, healthy community.”
Thank you, Wild River Fitness and Osceola Community Health Foundation for your dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles in our community.
Community Partner of the Year
An Osceola Area Chamber business or organization that demonstrates excellence in collaboration to improve the economic vitality of the community through leadership, sponsorships, volunteerism, and partnering with other organizations and/or businesses.
PY’s Saloon, Steve Johnson, Owner
“Third places” are everyday gathering places that are the anchors of community life. Great downtowns have great third places. They are welcoming and comfortable…a place to congregate apart from home or work. PY’s has grown into our third place in downtown Osceola. At any given day of the week, many different groups can be found here planning events, holding meetings, hosting meat raffles or just enjoying each other’s company over a beer. Thank you, Steve and staff for making us feel at home in your establishment. Your support of the Osceola Lions Club, Osceola Braves Baseball, the Grow Osceola group and all sorts of meat raffles is greatly appreciated. PY’s also helped host the 2017 Valley Brew Fest whose proceeds benefit the trails in Osceola.
Not only do we appreciate PY’s as a community partner, but Ding celebrated 35 years in business in 2017- we congratulate you and commend you on this milestone accomplishment!
Above and Beyond
An individual who supports and reinforces the values of the Chamber and exhibits a high level of commitment, initiative, leadership, cooperation, and dedication- going above and beyond expectations.
Marcia received last year’s Osceola Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award for her dedication to the chamber’s social media program and she continues her work in this area. She has served on the Osceola Public Library Board of Directors since 2009. In addition to her duties on the board, she volunteers for the library’s signature event, Rhubarb Days. Marcia is a founding member of the Mill Pond Learning Foundation whose inaugural project has been the Inspire Campaign for the Discovery Center which will become the new home for the Osceola Public Library. She currently serves as communications co-chair on the Inspire Campaign’s Cabinet. Marcia also serves as secretary for both the library board and the learning foundation. Her day job is head media specialist for Osceola Schools.
Rising Star Business
Relatively new "up and coming" small businesses with a unique blend of vision, energy and skill. It is for ventures that have had a strong start with the potential for growing into a prosperous enterprise and have demonstrated a strong contribution to the future of the community.
Krista Timm, Jessica Robinson, Danielle Larson, Alexa Stokes
Co-owners of Style Escape
These ladies are definitely A TEAM. They had been running individual businesses for years but last year the owners joined forces and are now known as “Style Escape.” Krista and Jessica had worked together previously, then a connection with Danielle was made and two years ago, Alexa (who is Krista’s daughter) was ready to join the team.
The group moved into a storefront downtown and were up and running in two weeks. They feel their most important business tool is open communication. With demanding business and family schedules, the team implemented an online booking app so they can see each other’s schedules and make adjustments as a team to make sure their customers are taken care of.
Style Escape is a full-service beauty salon with an inventory of many wonderful clothes, jewelry, gifts and organic beauty products. Plans are to add an acupuncturist, make-up services and spa packages soon.
Excellence in Customer Service
An Individual or business with outstanding customer service based on -first impressions, attitude, helpfulness, exceling above and beyond service expectations and promoting other businesses in the area. Awarded throughout 2017 were: Dick’s Fresh Market, Watershed Cafe, Cascade Bar, Noah Insurance and Osceola Public Works.
Watershed has a wonderful staff that is a talented and hardworking team. Rita and Steve are a blessing to our community. They take special care in training in customer service and feel especially dedicated to knowing how important that first job experience at Watershed is for our young people. They value the connections with their customers in a special way through how you are greeted at the door when you walk in to the quality of the food they bring in, how it is prepared and how it is served. Congratulations to all the staff and Rita & Steve for the warm and friendly atmosphere you have created and in setting the bar for Outstanding Customer Service in Osceola.
Building of the Year
Nominees in this category are the physical building that house successful businesses, including new construction as well as buildings which have undergone major remodeling or refurbishment in 2017 making the building an attribute to the community.
Dick’s Fresh Market
After 10 years of planning, the recent expansion and remodeling of Dick’s Fresh Market in downtown Osceola has won them the 2017 Osceola Building of the Year award. The store has been family-owned and operated for over 30 years.
The primary motivation for owner, Doug Rinehart, was to make his facility an even better store for his customers.
The list of improvements includes: a new deli and bakery; Caribou Coffee; Beer Cave; the remodeling allows for an increased inventory of organic, natural and gluten-free foods; offices; rest rooms; and employee break room; updated exterior and redesigned parking lot.
The store renovation has also created jobs with 16 new employees for Caribou Coffee and another 15 new employees for the grocery store. Downtown Osceola has seen an increase of traffic as the store’s customer base has expanded.
Thank you, Dick’s, for appreciating our small town and investing in our future.
Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year
Individual who stays active in our community after reaching the age of 70 with volunteerism and outstanding commitment to community service.
Rev. Richard Kretzschmar
Richard grew up on a family farm near St. Louis, Michigan. He earned advanced degrees in chemistry, biology, botany and divinity. While in Tennessee attending seminary college, he met and fell in love with Norma Christopherson from Osceola, WI. They were married in 1960.
The family lived in Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas and Iowa where Richard served in various ministry capacities. They moved to Osceola in 2001 and in retirement, Richard has constantly kept himself busy in the community. He loves to share his hobbies with anyone who wants to learn.
Richard considers himself a Bee Evangelist and is known as the Public Honey Bee Swarm Catcher. Many have started keeping bees under Richard’s direction and he teaches elementary school children about the benefits of bees for their honey and pollination. He shares and sells his honey to the community.
Richard has also taught about wild edible plants through adult education classes and leading field trips with Boy Scouts.
Another hobby is wine making.
Richard is also the one to ask if you want to know about genealogy. He has been a volunteer interpreter at the Osceola Library and is a former President of the Polk County Genealogy Society.
And last but certainly not least, Richard serves as a pastoral care pastor for the Osceola United Methodist Church.
Educator of the Year
Recognizing the contributions our schools make to our community, this honor goes to an educator who demonstrates outstanding contributions to education and the community.
Art Aytay, III – Osceola High School Band Director
“It is important to start off by mentioning that any of the contributions which have been made by the band, do not fall on my shoulders, but rather are accomplishments the STUDENTS of the band have made. The extreme PRIDE and COURAGE these students exhibit daily is truly awe-inspiring.”
That is the statement of a true educator.
Art believes strongly that music, much like sports, can be an excellent vehicle for teaching students the value of hard work, dedication, teamwork, and self-reliance.
Art would like to share a quote from JoHann Wolfgang von Goethe. It is on a poster left by Mr. Kinne in 1995 for the new young teacher to find. The poster is still on the wall in the band room office today:
Team of authors contribute. Germaine Ross, Chamber Director, Nancy Beck, Board Member.