The Saratoga Sun -

Author photo

By Joshua Wood
Stevenson Newspapers 

Chamber Honors the Best of 2022

Volunteers, organizations and businesses recognized during annual chamber dinner on March 9


March 16, 2023

Joshua Wood

Cassie Orduno, left, and Joe Elder share a laugh over dinner

On the night of March 9, the Great Hall at the Platte Valley Community Center was packed with businesses, organizations and community members for the 2022 Annual Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.

With food and drinks provided by the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort and music from Stillhouse Blues of Rawlins, the event appeared to be a success. According to Chamber CEO Amanda Knotwell, tickets for the event had sold out. While some who had purchased tickets or tables may not have been able to attend on March 9, it was difficult to find an empty seat in the Great Hall.

This year, there were multiple nominations for the five categories awarded at the chamber dinner: Volunteer of the Year, Organization of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year, New Business of the Year and Business of the Year. 

Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Amanda Shahadey for her efforts in coaching youth basketball, volunteering at chamber events and her participation in various events throughout the Valley.

Organization of the Year was awarded to the Saratoga Days Committee, which is composed of Scott and Michelle McIllvaine and Joe Elder. This year, the committee also added Amanda Shahadey and Lauren Trostle to its ranks. Scott McIllvaine, during the acceptance speech, announced the line-up for the 2023 Saratoga Days which will include Neil McCoy as the headliner.

Emerging Business of the Year went to Quarry LLC, founded by Emily Luparia and located next to The Grumpy Italian Eatery in Saratoga.

Joshua Wood

Cassie Orduno delivers a tearful acceptance speech after receiving New Business of the Year for SunnyCup

New Business of the Year was arguably the most emotional part of the evening as SunnyCup received the award this year. Knotwell nearly broke down into tears as she read the nomination for SunnyCup. When Cassie Orduno, co-owner of SunnyCup, accepted the award she also broke down into tears.

Orduno, who also co-owns Bella's Bistro and Saratoga Sandwich Company with her husband, Tommy, talked about the difficulties of running a business. 

"Some days," Orduno said, "you're not even sure it's worth it. You find yourself down on your knees and that's when someone else comes along and offers a hand to help you back up."

Orduno concluded her speech by saying how much she appreciated having not one, but three businesses in the Valley and the support each had received.

Business of the Year went to Town & Country Realty. Founded by Laurie Forster, the real estate business transferred ownership to Amanda Shahadey while keeping long-time staff members Lauren Trostle, Shelby McGuire, JoAnne Cappellen, Marcie Cooley and Mary Martin.


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