To the many kudos she's already received after helping fight a cougar off her husband in January, Nell Hamm of Fortuna can add the Woman of the Year honor this month.

State Assemblywoman Patty Berg conferred the honor on Hamm this week in Sacramento.

andquot;Nell is the ultimate hero,andquot; said Berg, a Eureka Democrat who represents District 1. andquot;She kept her wits and saved her darling husband of 50 years from a mountain lion.andquot;

The well-publicized incident happened Jan. 24 in Prairie Woods State Park near the Hamm's home in Fortuna. Nell beat the lion with a tree branch and tried to stab it with a pen in an attempt to free her husband, Jim Hamm.

She then persuaded her injured husband to stand up and walk with her to safety.

If Nell had not fought off the cougar, her husband likely would have died.