Juneau, AK (KINY) - The Juneau Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet, where they recognized prominent community contributors, including Citizen of the Year.
John McConnochie a past Olympic swimmer, coach, business owner, and community advocate was awarded the Citizen of the Year in Juneau.
We asked him how it felt to be recognized.
"It's an overwhelming sense of being very humbled by this honor. I'm just very surprised, very honored."
McConnochie was proud of his two businesses, as well as his wife's. However, what he found more rewarding was the youth programs and opening their homes to foreign exchange students.
"Whether it be the bike program that we developed for the spring or the AWARE program bikes. Also, involvement with Rotary with youth exchange, we've had seven exchange students stay with us over the years, as well as coaching the high school swim team. So, working with youth and hopefully being able to be a role model. As they go out in the world provide them a small leg up."
McConnochie also talked of his time passing on his knowledge of swimming to the next generation.
"Swimming has been so great to me for several years. I had the chance to travel and go to some amazing venues and was able to give that expertise and pass it on to the kids in the program. Getting to know them is an amazing experience; it keeps coming back to Juneau, we get to talk, and it's very warming."
He closed our interview by stressing the importance of paying that civic rent, "the community has been very gracious and generous to us. We need to give back."
McConnochie was also heavily involved in the Special Olympics, past Rotary Club President, the Humane Society, was a Chairman of Travel Juneau, and several other charitable works. He is also an avid outdoorsman and competes in triathlons. He also competed for New Zealand in the 1972 Winter Olympics in Munich, and the 1976 Winter Olympics in Montreal in swimming.
"I'm very humbled, very surprised, and very honored. I'm very grateful to live in a wonderful community that is so giving. This award is very meaningful to me."
Erik Erickson, who ended his year as President Saturday, said he was very pleased with his tenure and what he was able to accomplish. "I love Juneau and it was a wonderful experience to be Chamber President." He also praised the Chamber Board of Directors for the hard work they put in this year.
"I tried to work for a greater Juneau and I feel we achieved that," he added. He said membership had grown in the past year.
New President Richard Burns said the Chamber Board is an amazing group of volunteers. He called the Chamber a great way to invest in your business and its future, "The Chamber of Commerce is a great investment in your business. It is a tremendous honor to take over as Chamber President."
He said the Chamber helped him and his wife Sharon to achieve a life long dream of owning radio stations. He said a letter from the Chamber to let the Federal Communications Commission know that he was the 2010 Juneau Citizen of the Year, played a key role in the FCC relaxation of a rule about radio station ownership. He said the Chamber is a great advocate for your business.
Mike Satre was announced as the Chamber President for 2019. The Theme of the Evening was "A Night in Manhattan." Ben Brown served as Master of Ceremonies. Mayor Ken Koelsch offered a welcome to the large crowd. Tom Locher and Allison Holtkamp provided music.
The Chamber also raised funds with a variety of auctions, drawings and raffles to help fund the organization for the next year. The annual dinner committee included Hayden Garrison, Erin Bogert, Mary Boyer, Erica Simpson, Charlie Williams, Erik Eriksen, Kathy Harris, Eric Forst, Craig Dahl, Heidi Boucher, Autumn Baldwin, and Rae Everett.