"I don't think there's a person that hasn't been touched somehow by what Spray Lake Sawmills has done in this community or Barry and Lorna themselves."

Words spoken by Rocky Mt. Rotary club past president Ryan Baum ring true, and you don't have to look far for examples.

Spray Lake Sawmills' (SLS) and the Mjolsnes family have been substantial contributors to practically every major community project. What isn't as visible is the countless unspoken donations made without fanfare in the quiet and dignified philanthropic approach demonstrated by Barry, and his father before him.

On Monday, Oct. 23, SLS president and CEO Barry Mjolsness is being honoured as a Community Builder at a gala that doubles as a fundraiser organized by the Rocky Mt. Rotary Club.

A limited number of tickets remain available. It's being held at the Hall of Vision in the Cochrane RancheHouse. Cocktails are at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30, and program and live auction at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Items are welcomed for the live and silent auction as well as further sponsorships. You can find details here or email rockymountainrotary@gmail.com.

Baum says the evening is a chance to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the long-standing staple in Cochrane's economy.

"We get the opportunity to recognize an individual, but we're fortunate we to celebrate that 80th year because as we know today, there won't be an 81st year."

It was recently announced an agreement has been reached for the family-owned business to be acquired by West Fraser in a deal expected to close later this year.

Baum says the Rotary Club has been working on arranging the evening for some time and had already selected and approached Barry prior to that announcement.

The Mjolness family established the forest products company in 1943 in Sundre. They moved it here in 1969 and continued to diversify its product line, which now includes dimension lumber, agricultural fence posts, treated wood products, livestock bedding, wood chips (for use in pulp and paper products), and bark mulch for landscaping.

forest agreementBarry Mjolsness shakes hands with then Alberta Agriculture and Forestry minister Devin Dreeshen after signing a new Forest Management Agreement in July 2021. (photo/AB Gov't)

Spray Lake Sawmills employs, directly and indirectly, over 300 individuals from Cochrane and the surrounding area.

Barry likely gives a nod to the charitable side of the award. Since the creation of the awards by Dan Kroffat, it has supported a number of important initiatives, such as the Big Hill Haven, The Trail, Activettes Food Bank, and the new playground recently erected at the Guiding Movement's Camp Jubilee.

This year, it's assisting ROARR, a CRA registered charity, that offers equine-assisted learning programs and therapies for youth and seniors in need.

A smaller portion of the proceeds will be used to support the community initiatives of the Rky. Mt. Rotary Club.

Kroffat says he's fully turning over the reigns of the Community Builder Award to the Rotary Club and is assisting with the transition. In the hands of the club, he believes the program is assured of being sustainable for years to come.

"It's almost like raising a child and watching them graduate and move on to become a worthy citizen. I know in passing this event along that it's in great hands."

Jack Tennant, Bearcat Murray, Alex Baum and, most recently, Tom Jackson are the previous recipients.


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