What a superb opportunity to pay tribute! It is a great American tradition and many of our local communities enthusiastically respect it and respond with genuine affirmation in support of it. To wit, we recognize those very special individuals and organizations who so truly exemplify the true spirit of an American community of people. And such is the case in Gowanda, NY. The Gowanda Area Chamber of Commerce is to be commended for its sponsorship of The Spirit of Gowanda annual recognition awards. We applaud this undertaking as truly the best of the American spirit and in keeping with our national heritage of giving credit where credit is due. The evening of Saturday, February 23, will be just such an occasion. An appreciative public will honor this year's recipients in the true Spirit of Gowanda tradition.

Jessan Hurkes is the receiver of the Gowanda Spirit of Excellence in Youth Award. Hurkes is the senior class President in Gowanda High School and plans to pursue a degree in Computer Aided Drafting and Design. He is a member of the National Honor Society and received the 2007 Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology. Hurkes was one of three students who represented Gowanda at American Legion Boys State and was selected as Technology Student of the Month during his junior year. He is an enthusiastic athlete, a genuinely visionary worker in school and class affairs, and an energetic volunteer assisting classroom teachers in innumerable creative learning activities. It is just such a person as Hurkes, and other young folks like him, who eminently assure every American that the future of this Country is in the best of hands. Well done Jessan; we are proud of YOU!

There are many who serve our Community with valued distinction, unsurpassed dedication, devoted conscientiousness, and unselfish passion. Such is the case of this year's Community Service Award... The Gowanda Ambulance Service. This ambulance service possesses a truly noble mark of distinction. It is known for outstanding competence, efficient expertise, compassionate caring, and, just when it is needed most, a calming and encouraging demeanor. It is wherever it needs to be, in all kinds of weather, anytime day or night, weekdays, weekends, and holidays. The men and women of the Gowanda Ambulance Service are truly fine humane professionals, and at the same time, they exemplify the best which comes from an acknowledgement of, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." They exemplify with distinction the high standard of measurement of society's "thousand points of light" with their giving heart of outstanding human service and encouraging compassion. How fortunate we are! The greater Gowanda area is truly thankful and extends a hand of sincere gratitude.

The Spirit of Gowanda truly prevails in McCormack's Hardware, the recipient of this year's Business Award. What a fitting recognition for this outstanding business in our area. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. It is this business entrepreneurship in America, such as McCormack's, that creates two of every three new jobs; produces 39 percent of the gross national product, and invents more than half the nation's technological innovation. Over 20 million small businesses provided dynamic opportunity for all Americans. It is the vibrancy of small businesses, such as McCormack's, which sparks the engine of economic growth. McCormack's Hardware has been part of the Gowanda business landscape for over 20 years. It is known and respected for its genuine helpfulness, cordial cooperativeness, and warm geniality. Truly, these are the business qualities that have been and are the earmarks of America's best. We congratulate Kevin McCormack, his family, and all those associated with this year's recipient of the Spirit of Gowanda Business Award!

What a tribute! This year, the Gowanda Area Chamber of Commerce is presenting a one-time special recognition. This Award goes to the TLC Health Network. Through the years, this region has been provided with health facilities of excellence, meeting the needs of local residents and workers of all ages. Further, the emergency health needs of those individuals traveling through the vast regions of the Southern Tier have been provided by the TLC Network. Many have spoken of the outstanding quality hospital services which are immediately available and provided by a most competent, dedicated, and caring staff and administration. These staff and facilities are within geographic distances where a patient could be stabilized, treated, or transferred with efficiency, and this practice has saved lives. One can document the lives which have been spared and the trauma which has been treated because of the availability of superior services and quality facilities. Against overwhelming odds TLC has remained vigilant, focused, and determined. "Fighting for Our Lives and Yours" that was the campaign thrust and this is our determined vision. To ALL in the TLC Heath Network: A grateful pubic pays tribute!

And a special tribute to the Gowanda Area Chamber of Commerce. This marks the 20th anniversary of the Spirit of Gowanda program. And this, too, marks the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Gowanda Area Chamber of Commerce. What a tribute to the hardworking men and women and the leadership of the Chamber. They are unselfishly giving of self, their time, ingenuity, and dedication to the health and vibrancy of our overall region. And the entire community gives a standing ovation and an appreciative "Thank You" to the Gowanda Chamber, to Jessan Hurkes, to The Gowanda Ambulance Service, to McCormack's Hardware, and to the TLC Health Network. And you know, this is a part of what America is all about and we are proud of it. That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.