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This year’s nominees for Celebrate Corvallis have been announced.

Some 65 individuals and organizations have been nominated for top honors in 10 categories (see sidebar with this story), with nine people vying for the title of Corvallis’ First Citizen.

One of the winners has already been named: The Jim and Ruth Howland Special Achievement Award will honor longtime civic leader and downtown businessman Pat Lampton, owner of The Inkwell Homestore.

Now in its 68th year, Celebrate Corvallis is the city’s biggest annual awards gala, honoring business achievement and community service.

Last year’s winners included First Citizen Judy Corwin, marketing director for The Corvallis Clinic, and Robert C. Ingalls Business Person of the Year Tom Gerding of Gerding Cos. Henderer Design + Build was named Business of the Year, and Starker Forests received the Jim and Ruth Howland Special Achievement Award.

Presented by the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce, the event features food and drink and a multimedia presentation highlighting the contributions of the nominees. The 2016 edition will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Oregon State University’s CH2M Hill Alumni Center, 725 S.W. 26th St.

Corvallis Gazette-Times Editor Mike McInally and former TV newsman John Marler will return as masters of ceremonies, and this year’s theme will be “A Noteworthy Community.”

In a change from past practice, the Alumni Center ballroom will have theater seating as well as tables, creating room for a larger audience to watch the awards ceremony. That means groups who want to sit together will need to reserve a table.

“We’re going to be able to fit more people in, and it’s going to be a neat feel,” said Cooper Whitman, president and CEO of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s more important than ever to get a table if you want to sit with people.”

"We've been sold out in the final week every year for the past several," added Mike Corwin of Oregon State Credit Union, who chairs the Celebrate Corvallis committee. "We've got the capacity of the ballroom up over 400 now."

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Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald