By Cornelia de Bruin
Triplicate staff writer
Dan Brattain was named Business Leader of the Year and Rick and Diana Tomasini received the Del Norte Pride Award on Saturday.
Dan Brattain initially was shocked when his name was announced during the Crescent City-Del Norte Chamber of Commerce's annual membership dinner.
"Our office staff was talking about going (to the Crescent City-Del Norte Annual Membership Dinner), so I said I'd go with them," said Brattain said, president and owner of Cal-Ore Life Flight "It was a complete surprise."
Brattain was out of earshot during that portion of the evening ceremony. Master of Ceremonies Kevin Hartwick tracked him down and told him to hurry as he was getting an award.
"I came downstairs just in time to hear my name called," said Brattain. "I'm very honored and humbled, but I know it's not about just me."
He gives credit to his staff of more than 70 people.
"Our organization tries to be a good business partner in the community," he said. "It takes all of us to do what we do."
He also credits the support of Kathy, his wife of 28 years. The business has enabled him to support his family and launch two sons into their college educations at Oregon State University.
One is an instrument-rated pilot.
Brattain worked for the company he now owns when it was still WestLog Aviation, then bought it about 12 years ago. Cal-Ore Life Flight is the air ambulance side of the business.
It started as a fixed-base operation in the 1970s, providing fuel to the planes that needed it. The air ambulance portion came during the late 1980s.
Initially Cal-Ore provided the planes and Del Norte Ambulance "put nurses on them."
"Then we decided to supply our own nurses," he said. "We acquired the ground ambulance in Brookings in 1998."
The company provides service to about 3,000 ground calls and about 650 air ambulance flights per year. Flights range from Eureka and Medford, Ore., to as far as Portland, Los Angeles and Phoenix wherever the patient's doctor feels the appropriate treatment facility is located.
Comprising five air ambulance planes and nine pilots, the business also claims a membership of people who sign up annually for medical services.
In return for joining the membership, the company waives patients' insurance co-pays and offers area discounts to local businesses.
Like a well-balanced stool, its third leg is a Hertz car rental business.
"I would like to encourage business people to work together as a region," said Brattain. "We should all try to work together on our airports and highways, they're important to us all."
The Tomasinis received the Del Norte Pride Award, which is co-sponsored by The Daily Triplicate, in part for their work in restoring the old Escape Hatch Building and moving into it their downtown businesses, The Enchanted Florist and The Witch's Hut.
Sacha and Zachary Finley launched Tomasini's Enoteca in the same building, bringing a total of three businesses to the downtown area about one year ago.
"We were all real excited, and our customers are excited," said Karyle Dickey, who works with the Tomasinis. "We were hoping for this."
The hanging of ribbons during the Homecoming parade and decorative holiday lighting of their city block also helped garner them the award, said Rob Bignell, The Daily Triplicate's editor.
Neither the Tomasinis, nor the Finleys could be reached for their comments.
The Chamber also awarded its Volunteer of the Year award to Marj Niebauer, and its Lifetime Achievement Award to Harry Tedson, a retired dairy farmer, during the Saturday event.
Other Del Norte Pride Award nominees
Crescent City Women's Club: Nominated for its project to replaced required security floodlights at Battery Point Lighthouse
Linda Ging: Nominated for her ongoing participation in "numerous projects and events"
Richard Miles: "A local treasure to be appreciated"
Harley Munger: For his work mentoring area youth to create ceramic puzzle murals; 14 were hung in 2006
Crescent City Council: For its "concentrated effort" to eliminate blighted areas