Pick the best Whistler's Chamber of Commerce reminds employers that it's time to indicate their participation in the annual Employee Recognition Program. Sponsored by American Express, the popular program encourages excellence in customer service. "The number of people involved at this early point this year is much higher than last year," says Chamber executive director Thelma Johnstone. The 1997 recognition event, held in late April, was a gala affair at the conference centre. Company employees of the year each received a watch, pin and certificate of achievement. Grand prize winners got a $1,000 traveller’s cheque, a weekend in Vancouver and a high-end mountain bike. Participating employers should start nominating employees by mid-March. S.S. Olympic gathers steam The early stages of the Whistler/Vancouver Winter Olympic bid for 2010 went up another wee notch with the Tourism Vancouver board of directors voting unanimously to support a "financial contribution to participate in a 2010 bid should it proceed." Activity in Whistler remains low-key, at best. While there have been words of general support for the idea, and a survey indicating popular support, little if any official support is forthcoming at the moment. "It hasn't been discussed at the board level," says Whistler Chamber of Commerce executive director Thelma Johnstone. Other players such as the Whistler Resort Association and the municipality also haven't plans for an official statement of where or how they stand, especially offering any commitment to funding.