ABERDEEN — On Monday Arthur Vailas, president of Idaho State University, praised the people of Aberdeen for what they and their forebears have built.
Speaking at the annual Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce dinner, Vailas said, "education is what provided opportunity. Education is the greatest gift that you can give humanity."
He noted that those who built Aberdeen recognized that and ensured that their children would be educated.
"The greatest thing is where people are able to work as a collective," he said. "When you do, you will advance your mission of good will.
"We believe that education is a lifelong pursuit," he said of the ISU community. "It is time as citizens to really think about today and tomorrow."
Vailas said communities like Aberdeen have found ways to affect the entire world through education.
"We are 800 people here, something like that, and yet we affect the entire world," he said, noting that Bingham County is the world's largest producer of potatoes.
"Aberdeen, you are a great story because you have worked as a collective and worked for the right things," he said.
Vailas called for continued support of what he called knowledge-based education, noting that agriculture is such a pursuit. "We cannot afford to have education go in a negative direction."
Chamber president Dirk Driscoll noted that 2010 was a good year for the organization and the community.
"What a great year in so many ways," Driscoll said. "Health West's new clinic, 100 years for the canal company, 100 years for Wallace Drug, new Christmas lights...
"Small things, combined together, make a great place to live.
"We appreciate that everyone pulls together to make things work in Aberdeen," Driscoll said.
Stephen Weeg of Health West took a moment to thank the community for its support of the fundraising effort for the new clinic.
"It happened because of a lot of support from a lot of places," he said.
David Wahlen, the master of ceremonies, told the story of Wally the cab driver who differentiated himself from his competitors and thus built the kind of successful business found in places like Aberdeen.
Wally's cab was the cleanest around, Wahlen noted, both inside and out. He greeted his customers with a smile and offered them amenities and services that made them want to work with him.
"I used to complain like all the other cabbies," Wally told his customers. "Then I realized I wanted to stop being a duck who always quacks. I wanted to be an eagle and soar."
As a result of his positive attitude, Wally's business doubled, then quadrupled. He no longer sat at a cab stand waiting for customers. Instead they called him and sought his services. If he was unable to provide them, he sent them to his friends for a share of their profits. Everybody benefitted.
Driscoll will serve as chamber president for another year. Brett Crowther is vice president with Vicki Gamble as secretary and Cheryl Sorensen as treasurer. The board of directors includes Curtis Waltman, Ardis Parsons, Karl Vollmer, Jan Pratt, Dwight Wallace, Conan Feld, Melanie Beck and Karalee Krehbiel.