Marianna Khauv, current owner of Best Western Chelsea Inn and Suites and former owner of the popular Chin Yuen retaurant in Monticello, will serve as the Riverfest 2016 parade grand marshal today (Sunday, July 17).
The three organizations work cooperatively each year to make the Monticello Citizen of the Year selection.
Longtime Monticello Lions Club member Wes Olson, Monticello Chamber of Commerce & Industry Director Marcy Anderson and current Monticello Rotary President Chris Lommel confirmed Khauv’s selection after reaching her by telephone. Khauv was in New Orleans, attending a series of business meetings.
“Each year, the selection committee brings a list of names to the table, and we look at our past notes to see who was mentioned,” Olson said. “We look at the people who have been very active in the community, and those who you don’t want to miss recognizing because they are someone who has done a great deal for the community. Marianna met our selection criteria without question.”
As a member of the Monticello Rotary Club, Khauv has been involved in numerous projects. She is a past club president, and has spearheaded the club’s working to build libraries overseas.
The library development effort shepherded by Khauv has promoted literacy in her husband Onn’s home village in Cambodia. A total of three libraries have been built.
“Onn, a refugee from Cambodia, spent most of his young adulthood escaping the Communist Pol Pot regime,” Khauv said in a story published for the Monticello Rotary Club’s 60th anniversary last year. “He did not have the opportunity to go to school; it was all about survival during his younger age.”
The Khauvs and their three daughters traveled for the first library dedication; Marianna went back for the second completion.
This May, she and her fellow Rotarians traveled to Cambodia to work on a third Rotary-funded library. “This expansion also involved providing electricity for the village,” she added. “It will create opportunities to continue focusing on literacy.”
The third library is located in a middle school. The first library was located in an elementary and the second library in a high school, Marianna said.
Marianna became involved with the Monticello Chamber of Commerce & Industry when she and Onn first came to town.
“That’s when we bought the Silver Fox Inn, in 1991. We didn’t know anyone, and that involvement was a great way for us to meet other business people. I was chamber president in 1999.”
Plans for a 21-room, three story addition at the Best Western Chelsea Inn & Suites recently received unanimous Monticello City Council approval.
The project will add 9,693 square feet on the building’s east side. Interior remodeling of the existing building will consist of relocating the exercise room to an existing guest room.
The hotel’s existing breakfast area and pantry will be remodeled and enlarged to serve the additional rooms.
“This Best Western is our baby,” Marianna said. “We built it in 1999 and opened a year later. We strive to provide the best service in the area. We are constantly updating, and our construction on the addition will start on July 11. We will be upgrading to a Best Western Plus.”
Marianna and Onn built the Chin Yuen resturant brand over a 30 year-period, opening five different Chin Yuen restaurants using high -quality ingredients, hand preparation, and natural seasonings.
Last fall, they sold the Chin Yuen restaurant in Monticello to a local couple, Eric Chen and his wife, Tina Ren.
The Monticello Rotary Club has played an imporant role in Marianna’s involvement in the community.
“I attended meetings and did turns volunteering on the various commitees, but I really didn’t get to the meat of things until the year my youngest graduated from high school,” she said. “Many Monticello Rotarians came to the graduation party and said there wasn’t any excuse for me not to get involved further or at a higher level.”
At the time, the Monticello Rotary Club was at a little bit of a downturn. “We had a hard time getting people to step up after Chris Kruse was president-elect,” she said. “I learned a lot from Chris. I followed him as president. He started our Interact, a club for young people ages 12 to 18 who want to join together to tackle the issues in their community that they care most about.”
The very first program that Monticello Interact was involved in
was a literacy walk.“It raised money for the first library in Cambodia. I was very grateful for that,” she said.
Mariann and Onn are also involved in the Connect 5 program for students with special needs. Students gather work experience with light housekeeping and other duties while using the Best Western’s pool for water therapy, yoga and other activities. “Our Rotary club also has a Strive program and provides scholarships, and we send kids to camp,” she said.
Monticello Citizen of the Year Winners
1983 Lynn Smith
1984 Dr. Matthew Smorstock
1985 Caroline Ellison
1986 Emil Dorf
1987 Lloyd & Betty Grossnickle
1988 Ed Schaffer
1989 Bud Schrupp
1990 Pinewood Playground Trio; Cheryl Fuller, Marilyn Hennigson, Judy Sloneker
1991 Arve Grimsmo
1992 Wes Olson
1993 Marion Jameson
1994 Ken Maus
1995 Opal Stokes
1996 Harvey Kendall
1997 Sheldon Johnson
1998 Kermit Benson
1999 Ollie Krahl
2000 Bruce Gagnelius
2001 Ron Hoglund
2002 Fran Fair
2003 Shelia Lawrence
2004 Roger Belsaas
2005 Mike Benedetto
2006 Don Smith
2007 Gene Garman
2008 Ollie Koropchek
2009 Suzie Wojchouski
2010 Jim Lindberg
2011 Art & RoseAnn Duran
2012 Dan Olson
2013 Duane Gates
2014 Dr. Donald Maus
2015 Clint Herbst
2016 Mariann Khauv