Business & economy, In the community

Ontario chamber to honor Man and Woman of the Year

The Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce will honor retired fire chief Terry Leighton and activist Maria Romero-Arambula as Man and Woman of the Year during its annual banquet.

The dinner is scheduled for Friday. Jan 13, at Four Rivers Cultural Center and kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $40. 

Every year, the chamber solicits nominations for various categories, including man and woman of the year, business of the year, educator of the year and agriculturist of the year. 

According to John Breidenbach, chamber CEO, the banquet dinner celebrates those nominated for the awards. 

Romero-Arambula has been a member of the Oregon Law Center and works as a paralegal.

Romero-Arambula is also a founder of Euvalcree, the Ontario nonprofit that promotes minority interests in eastern Oregon. She also serves on the boards for Community in Action, Blessed Sacrament Parish Council and the Mexican American Citizenship League. 

Leighton, the former Ontario Fire and Rescue chief, was nominated by Dan Cummings, Ontario city manager Cummings wrote that Leighton has always been the first to volunteer to help with all community events and committees. 

Leighton retired in October after more than 40 years. His career stretched from Nampa to Ontario. 

Leighton was instrumental in creating a regional training facility at the former Ontario public works compound at 55 N.E. 2nd Ave.

Citizens tapped Ultimate Lawn Care as business of the year. Owned by longtime Ontario residents Ruben and Armida Hernandez, the couple started the company when their five children were young. Over the years, the Hernandez’s have given back to the community, sponsoring the Ultimate Fun Run, a fundraiser for St. Peter Catholic School. Armida has been a teacher at St. Peter for 10 years. 

Ruben is the head coach of the Ontario High School wrestling team and former head coach of the Field of Dreams softball program, a girls softball club that served as a feeder program for the Ontario High School softball team. 

Breidenbach said this year, the chamber added the category Agriculturist of the Year and the members are recognizing Montgomery Farms, owned by Allen and Tonya Montgomery. The business, located in Ontario, hosts a pumpkin patch and corn maze every fall. 

Breidenbach said the chamber wanted to acknowledge Montgomerys for their years of service to the community. 

“They are good stewards of the land and help out with community events,” Breidenbach said.

The Ontario School District nominated Meg Galeener as this year’s Educator of the Year. Galeener has been with the district since 2007 and is the district’s instructional reading coach. In that role, Galeneer helps the district find teacher resources for teacher professional development, according to the district’s nomination form. 

Additionally, Galeener creates tutor materials and has worked to develop consistent teaching practices across the district. During her tenure with the district, Galeener has taught kindergarten and fourth grade and, at one time, was an adjunct professor at Eastern Oregon University. 

Over the years, Galeener has earned the respect of educators throughout the district.  

“Meg is a go-to for colleagues in her district. She is a wealth of knowledge in the education profession, and her data-driven approach to interventions provides so much growth for students,” Chelsie Borbon, a teacher at Alameda Elementary School, wrote. “Meg is an incredible instructional leader and provides great professional development opportunities to her colleagues.”

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