CEDA presents community awards

Churchill County Middle School Principal Amy Word, who is also the niece of Shirley Walker, stands next to Liam Few, recipient of a Churchill Economic Development Authority award

Churchill County Middle School Principal Amy Word, who is also the niece of Shirley Walker, stands next to Liam Few, recipient of a Churchill Economic Development Authority award

The Churchill Economic Development Authority recognized residents and organizations for their contributions in making Churchill County a better place to live. CEDA made the announcement to its members in a Zoom presentation, and members of the CEDA board presented the awards to the recipients at a different time.

In addition to the community awards, CEDA also voted on slate of officers for 2021.

The Merton Domonske Award

For a Lifetime of Service

Harry ‘Bus’ Scharmann

When this award first came into existence, Paula Domonoske graciously allowed us to name this award after her husband Mert, who served our community for many, many years. Mert had love for his community and served as a councilman and mayor. While past recipients of this award are deserving, all had served this community in a civic capacity, elected or employed.

This year’s winner is a man who has served his community for almost half a century. Harry “Bus” Scharmann is completing his second term as Churchill County commissioner and during the past eight years, the county has repurposed the library built the William Pennington Life Center and the Law Enforcement Facility. Along with his fellow commissioners and other officials, he was part of the flood mitigation task force that saved our community from potential — and devastating — flooding.

We first met Bus when he served on a number of roles with Western Nevada College, and for the last 15 years of his 37 years of service, he was as dean of the Fallon Campus & Off Campus Programs for WNC. After he retired from WNC and before he was elected to the commission, Bus served as Interim superintendent for Churchill County School District for 2012-13. He also led a group concerned about the future of WNC, Restore Our College Campus Committee.

He was a champion to save the annual Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe Festival, and under his leadership, the successfully festival moved to the weekend before Labor Day.

The Virgil Getto Award

For Dedication to the Promotion of the Agriculture Industry

Sage Hill Dairy

Because of community leaders such as Virgil Getto and other like-minded individuals in Churchill County, this area’s great agricultural industry has contributed immensely to the local economy, second only to Naval Air Station Fallon.

Sage Hill Dairy was established in October 2006 by partners and brothers Pete Olsen III and Mike Olsen, sons of Pete Olsen Jr. In 2006 they became the third owners of the existing dairy when they purchased it from Margret Jernigan. Originally, Elbert Mills was started and owned the dairy in 1964. Pete and Mike are the fourth generation of Olsens to milk cows in Nevada. Their family has been milking cows in Nevada every single day since the early 1900s.

The original dairy, Hillside Dairy, was operated in Sparks but moved to Fallon in 1970 where it is still operated by brothers Pete Jr, Eric and Neil Olsen.

Currently at Sage Hill Dairy, Pete and Mike employ nine full-time team members who help milk, feed, and grow crops for the 700 Jersey cows they milk three times a day every day. Sage Hill Dairy farms about 500 acres of corn, alfalfa and triticale in the Sheckler District south of Fallon.

The Carl Dodge Award

For believing big and taking great risks to improve, family, industry and community

Frey Ranch Distillery

State Sen. Carl Dodge was a man with great vision for this community that was reflected in his service at both local and state levels, extending far beyond title alone. The family we honor today has been dedicated to providing the opportunity for all people of ages to learn about agriculture in community.

The year 2020 has been a challenging one for most people and businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic, but for Frey Ranch Distillery, this year has been a rewarding one. Frey Ranch released their Straight Rye Whiskey and Straight Bourbon Whiskey and both received gold medals from the Whiskies of the World Awards worldwide competition. The Straight Rye also took home the Best in Class in its category. All the spirits were judged on a 100-point basis, concentrating on appearance, aromatics, flavor, mouthfeel and finish.

Colby Frey and his wife Ashley have sipped the taste of success for the past seven years, beginning in 2013 when they opened their first case of the first batch of brandy legally distilled at the Frey Ranch. The Freys began making their premium wine in 2001.

The Newell Mills Award

For Innovation in Industry that improves the economic viability of the entire community

Western Nevada College / Oasis Academy / CCCSD

Newell Mills was an innovator in the Dairy Industry his entire life, assuring Churchill County’s place on the map. This award recognizes Innovation in Industry that improves the economic viability of the entire community, and this year we recognize the innovation nurtured by our partners in education: Western Nevada College, Oasis Academy and Churchill County School District.

Not too many years ago, WNC struggled to keep its doors open, but since that time, innovative programs have led to a renaissance in the Oasis of Nevada. WNC enrollment has increased to 300 students, but more than half come from Oasis and Churchill County High School through the JumpStart program. Approximately 120 students have graduated with both associates and high-school degrees and, at the same, time, avoided debt. Not to mention, WNC’s nursing program is also growing at its Fallon campus. The Fallon campus agreed earlier this year to rent space for Oasis Academy freshmen through senior students.

The Churchill County School District continues to look toward the future in graduating students ready for the world. The Nevada Association of School Boards has named the school district as the NASB Governance Team of the Year for its innovation.

The Stuart Richardson Award

For working behind the scenes to silently save and support the community

Our community’s educators and support staff

This year we honor not one individual but hundreds of individuals whose tireless service through many community organizations and committees has transformed the local landscape in a time of national emergency.

School bus drivers delivering meals to pick-up points, and food services preparing the meals and handing them out at the schools. They connected with kids in person and supported those students who may have needed their mobile internet hotspots on their buses.

Teacher and counselors reinventing themselves for online instruction and help keep great track of all learners.

District staff provided training and support to teachers in this time of innovation and change, adding support to communication to staff, families, and the community. They acted as a central hub to keep the district working together during the remote time and now as staff training and support for this continued different world of education.

Other support staff such as secretaries, instructional aides, security, others who stepped up and completed many tasks that were of various types, regardless of their position.

Hundreds of individuals reached out to families to ensure that people were safe, had what they needed to connect and hooked people up with various services.

The Shirley Walker Award

For building beautifully the civility, culture and collaboration in the community

Liam Few

This year we honor an individual whose contributions measure up to those given by Shirley Walker in her time of service to this community and will guarantee its vitality for years to come. This young man took on the school board and achieved his mission to beautify Churchill County Middle School’s infield, the former high school football field.

Liam, who was a seventh grader at the time, approached the trustees and said the middle-school track and infield looked like an eyesore. He gave a 15-minute presentation with images showing the infield’s condition and the inadequate drainage area around the track. The trustees took him seriously after his presentation, and instead of discounting Liam’s concerns, trustees expressed a desire to improve the field. After a few months, the school district found money within its budget to help Liam undertake his project.

Later in the year, sod was delivered to the middle school, and Liam had the honor of laying down the first roll.

CEDA boards

The CEDA Board of Directors are Chairman Pete Olsen, Vice Chair Kelly Frost and directors Cindy McGarrah, Mark Feest and Steve Ranson.

The CEDA Business Council Board of Directors are President Mark Feest, Vice President Grant Mills, Secretary/Treasurer Sara Beebe and directors Holly O’Toole, Dr. Summer Stephens, Joe Lane, Dan Ferguson and Steve Ranson.

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