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Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Hosts Annual Banquet

Thursday night’s Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet was a sight to behold. There was music, food catered by JJ’s and Nowicki’s Sausage, drinks to be enjoyed, and a chance to get to spend some time with the people in the community.

They also handed out their annual awards, including Business of the Year, Customer Service of the Year, and the main award of the night, Citizen of the Year, that went to Gary Stephan.

“It was a 100% surprise, honest,” said Stephan. “I had no idea this was coming.”

Stephan, a member of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the Ossineke Chamber of Commerce, exemplified the award due to the many contributions he’s made to the community, including volunteering with community events and being involved with different charitable organizations.

“It’s such a special award, because I know people who have won it before, and they’re so deserving of being recognized for what they do, and to me it’s so special to be recognized for what we do,” he said.

Stephan is also a volunteer softball coach for special needs children, and is a donor to Wish Fish and Wish Hunt, which provides hunting and fishing charters for special needs children as well.

“He has gone above and beyond for years on end, and he has really given back to his community,” said Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce president Adam Poll. “I think the mayor said it very well when he said everybody in the room, whether they knew it or not, has been impacted by Gary’s work.”

The rest of the night was about community togetherness, and celebrating another year together.

“The beauty of it is, you get to see people you haven’t seen in a while, obviously we bring in people from all over, Alpena and beyond, and it’s really great to have a lot of different industries represented, and really just coming together in a celebration of people that really help our community the most,” said Poll.