In the community

City councilor, retired judge to be honored at Ontario chamber’s annual banquet

ONTARIO – The Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce will honor Ken Hart, an Ontario city councilor and chief executive officer of Valley Family Health Care, and Patricia Sullivan, a retired state judge.

The dinner is scheduled for Friday. Jan 19, at Four Rivers Cultural Center and kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $55.

The banquet dinner celebrates those nominated for awards.

Each 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, chief executive of the chamber.

Sullivan is a founding member of Project DOVE, the county’s only domestic violence shelter. She also serves on the boards for Community Concerts of Treasure Valley and the Boys and Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley. Additionally, she has sat on the Malheur County Prison and Criminal Justice Advisory Committees since their respective inceptions in 2016. She is a retired state circuit court judge.

Hart is the chair of the Treasure Valley Community College Board, a member of the Ontario School District Budget Committee and helped champion the Ontario Promise, an account Ontario set aside to help fund education for kids in Ontario when they graduate high school.

For business of the year, the chamber named Ashley Furniture in Ontario. Owned by Richard Fitzsimonds, Ashley Furniture was described in the nominating documents as “a special business” that gives back to the community. The business located in downtown is a big supporter of Veterans and their families, according to the nomination from Ron Verini, chairman of Veterans Advocates of Ore-Ida.

Treasure Valley Community College nominated social science instructor Joe Kurth as educator of the year. Dana Young, college president, wrote that Kurth is the chair of the social science department, the faculty adviser of the school’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and voted teacher of the year by the college’s students in 2022.

Simplot Food Group, a Boise company, was named agriculturist of the year. In 2022, the company acquired a Kraft Heinz Co. food-processing plant in Ontario. It became the exclusive manufacturer of the Ore-Ida brand of potato products, which includes french fries and tater tots. The family-owned company has its headquarters in Boise and a large potato processing facility in Caldwell.

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