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Chamber of Commerce celebrates Citizen of the Year

Some past recipients of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award joined 2013 Citizen of the Year Kenny Bridge for a group photo at the Chamber’s gala celebration, Friday, Jan. 24, at the Heritage Inn. The first part of the evening was dedicated to the swearing in of the new Chamber executive, the second half to honouring Bridge. Back row, left to right: Jason Wheeldon, Nella Rounsville, Rick Jensen, Frank Sandor, Gordon Murphy. Front row, left to right: Bud Abbott, Loree Duczek, Ken Bridge, Dorial Davis, Skip Fennessy.  - Barry Coulter photo
Some past recipients of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award joined 2013 Citizen of the Year Kenny Bridge for a group photo at the Chamber’s gala celebration, Friday, Jan. 24, at the Heritage Inn. The first part of the evening was dedicated to the swearing in of the new Chamber executive, the second half to honouring Bridge. Back row, left to right: Jason Wheeldon, Nella Rounsville, Rick Jensen, Frank Sandor, Gordon Murphy. Front row, left to right: Bud Abbott, Loree Duczek, Ken Bridge, Dorial Davis, Skip Fennessy.
— image credit: Barry Coulter photo

Friends, family and associates of Kenny Bridge packed into the Heritage Inn Ballroom to celebrate the awarding of Cranbrook's Citizen of the Year to Kenny Bridge Friday, Jan. 24.

Since 1973, the Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce has been awarding Citizen of the Year to residents who have "contributed to the fabric that makes this community special," as Master of Ceremonies Loree Duczek said.

Bridge, who was named in December, is best known in the community for his successful business, Bridge Interiors. However, it was his contribution to local charity events that earned Bridge the 2013 honours.

Several letters of nomination were read out to the packed audience. Then Rob Martin, Past President of  the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24 Cranbrook, spoke of Bridge's unfailing generosity in aid of the Legion when it was needed. Bridge's friend Bob Cartier, owner of local A&W franchises, gave a toast to Bridge, hoping that "we all could follow Bridge's example" of community support.

And Tom White, who coaches with the Cranbrook Eagle's Boxing Club, and Steve Mercandelli with Cranbrook Dodge, got to the podium to talk about Bridge's remarkable boxing skills — or remarkable lack to them, rather. Mercandelli and Bridge had taken part in a charity boxing match (which Mercandelli won) in November, 2013, which raised more than $23,000 for the community — split between more than a dozen local causes.

Much of the celebration took the form of a roast — indeed, Derek Kortshaga of the Jim Pattison Broadcast group, and D'arcy Kennedy teamed up to share a few laughs — including snippets from some of Bridge's notorious radio commercials, a riff on Dean Martin's Celebrity Roast (Red Buttons' "Never Got A Dinner" routine), and a "Ken Bridge, this is your life!" segment.

Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski and attending members of City Council presented Ken and his wife Karen with a sculpted handcrafted doorknocker from Fort Steele, adorned with the BC dogwood flower — "as someone who will do anything for this community, and that's why the community is giving back to you." Stetski said.

Jason Wheeldon, last year's Citizen of the Year, officially passed the award over to Bridge.

Bridge himself gave a gracious speech, thanking his wife Karen, his family, and his team at Bridge Interiors. He made an especial point of thanking "all the people who support us — which is the reason we can give back to the community."

The first portion of the evening was taken up with the swearing in of the new Chamber of Commerce executive. Past President Mike Adams officially passed the gavel to new President David Butler, and Mayor Stetski swore in the new executive. They are: Dave Butler, President;  David Struthers, 1st Vice President; Avana Gjendem, 2nd Vice President; Jeanette Sissons, Treasurer); and Directors Chris Thom, Brenna Baker, Mike Matejka, Diane Baher, Russell Workun, Ted Lauritsen, Brian Rhodes, Lana Kirk and Ryan Gibbard.

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