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Chamber of Commerce bestows annual awards

Receiving awards were (from left): Bill Batchelder of Bemidji Woolen Mills, Business of the Year; Ross Ladehoff of the Bemidji Axemen, New Business of the Year; Tammy Schotzko of We Love Messes, Entrepreneur of the Year; Elaine Iverson of Paul Bunyan Communications, Wellness in the Workplace and Sylvia Wildgen of Security Bank, Ambassador of the Year. Not pictured are Mary Campbell and Lou Buron of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting, Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award.

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce held its 10th annual Awards of Excellence Luncheon at the Hampton Inn and Suites Thursday, honoring the cream of its member businesses.

Textile manufacturer Bemidji Woolen Mills received the Business of the Year award, and the Bemidji Axemen, the new professional Indoor Football League team, took home New Business of the Year.

Bemidji Woolen Mills owner Bill Batchelder was "totally humbled" at winning the award, he said.

Ross Ladehoff, co-owner of the Bemidji Axemen, credited the players, coaches, front office workers and the team's supporters for the win.

"Everybody involved did just a fantastic job," he said.

He also put in a plug for the Axemen's final two home games of the season, which are Saturday and June 7.

Tammy Schotzko, creator of organizing service We Love Messes, received Entrepreneur of the Year. She didn't expect to receive this much recognition when she started, she said.

"I feel like I'm a small fish in a big pool, so this is really exciting for me," she said.

Mary Campbell and Lou Buron of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting received the Charlie Naylor Lifetime Achievement award.

Paul Bunyan Communications won the Wellness in the Workplace award and Sylvia Wildgen won the Ambassador of the Year.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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