By Randy Kirby
With a very successful year behind them, the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce awarded those members who exceeded expectations in 2012, and looked forward to exciting things to happen with the Chamber in the future.
An awards banquet with well over 100 people in attendance at the Sedalia Country Club March 21 recognized numerous members, committees and projects that rose to the top and exemplified the motto of the Chamber, which is “Helping Business Do Business.”
According to Chamber Executive Director Connie Smith, who is currently celebrating her second anniversary as director, said that she was excited for the turnout and the recognition dinner itself.
“When we first decided to do this, it’s something that had not been done in several years (a nice banquet). Our members asked for it, so we hope we put on a good banquet for them, some great awards, some new awards we’d never given out before, and I think that gives people something to strive for and volunteer for,” Smith said at the conclusion of the banquet.
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Chamber Past President Dave Phillips, “for individual contribution of time and efforts in accomplishing chamber objective.” The recipient was chosen by the membership development advisory team.
Diane Zinn was named Ambassador of the Year, which is presented to the ambassador that participates in the most activities.
Elle Duggan was presented with the Chamber’s Outstanding Citizen Award.
The always humble Elle said that when she first learned she was receiving the prestigious award from Chamber President Doug Benitz, she commented “Oh no, I can think of dozens of people who deserve this other than myself,” she recalled. “And he says, ‘well, too bad, it’s a done deal. But you can give me those names for next year.’”
Duggan currently serves as chairperson of the Community Transportation Partnership, a member of the Advisory Board for BRHC Hospice & Home Health, Secretary-Treasurer of the Mount Herman Cemetery Association, and is a supporter of the 24 United Way agencies, as well as many other community organizations.
The Horizon Award was presented to David Grupe, Town and County Insurance, who recruited the most new members during the year as documented by Chamber staff.
Bothwell Regional Health Center was bestowed with the Progress Award for extraordinary efforts in promoting growth and progress in the Sedalia area.
According to the Chamber, the hospital has invested $15.5 million in the Canon Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Care, which includes a larger chemotherapy treatment area, a new linear accelerator for radiation therapy, a meditation garden and a Patient Education Resource Center in partnership with the American Cancer Society.
The cardiac catheterization lab and other cardiology services are now in a centralized location that is more comfortable and convenient for patients.
To entice new physicians to the area, Bothwell built the 56,000-square-feet Bothwell Healing Arts Center at 10th and Winchester. The three-story office building is home for Bothwell OB/GYN Associates, Bothwell Family Medicine, Bothwell Ear, Nose & Throat, Missouri Heart Center and Retina Associates. Bothwell Healing Arts Center was an $8 million project. With the opening of Bothwell Internal Medicine next month, the building will be 75 percent occupied.
Since its August 2011 opening, Bothwell has recruited five new physicians who practice there, and three other physicians who are located elsewhere. A new hematology oncologist is expected to join the hospital late this summer.
The Piccadilly Gala Committee was named Committee of the Year for being the committee that most successfully completing their plan of action as determined. The 2013 Piccadilly Gala is scheduled for Sept. 26.
Rick Yeager, chairman of the Chamber’s CVB Committee, and Carolyn Crooker: Director of the CVB, presented the Hospitality Award Rick & Merilee Weaver, and Tom Rob for exemplifying the positive impact of volunteers on Sedalia-Pettis County tourism and hospitality industry. They volunteered unpaid time in 2012 to a tourism-related endeavor.
Dianne Simon, chair of Military Affairs Committee, presented the Chamber’s Spirit Award to Jennifer Greene, Director of Community Relations for Whiteman Air Force Base.
The award recipient was selected by the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee “to recognize military personnel who have gone beyond in building relations between Sedalia and Whiteman Air Force Base.”
Doug Benitz presented the President’s Award to the T-Tax Committee, House Bill 16, “for the project most significantly contributing to the list of annual chamber accomplishments.”
Smith presented the New Member of the Year Award to Maureen O’Hare, owner of A Jewel Home Décor and More, for recognized loyalty, outstanding performance, commitment and dedication to the Sedalia Chamber.
Eva Myers, and Judy and Richard Parkhurst were recognized as Lifetime Members of the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce for those retirees “who have unselfishly and tirelessly contributed to the Sedalia Chamber.”
Myers noted that “The Chamber has a soft place in my heart, I enjoy working with you all so much, you’re the best people on Earth.”
Mrs. Parkhurst thanked the Chamber for making her time in Sedalia a beautiful journey.
“Not being a native, but living here all my adult life, I came to really enjoy and love the opportunity to be a part of Sedalia. And fortunately, I married a man that I don’t think would live anywhere else,” she smiled.
Carolyn Crooker, director of the CVB, was given the Director’s Award for “going above and beyond.”
The award is presented to the person who “unselfishly gives their time, skills and talent to promote and assist the Chamber and CVB, the Missouri State Fair Grounds, nonprofit and civic groups, City of Sedalia, Pettis County and the State of Missouri.”
Crooker graciously accepted the award and stated that she loves her job.
“If you do something you love, you never really work a day in your life,” she stated.
Committee Chair John Dawes presented the Special Project of the Year Award to the 2011-12 Leadership Sedalia Class.
The 2011-2012 Leadership Sedalia class completed a project submitted by the Central Business and Cultural District (CBCD) for signage of historic downtown Sedalia buildings. The class researched downtown Sedalia buildings and selected six historic sites for signage. CBCD will fund four signs this year. Each sign includes historic information in chronological order about the building.
The project required the class to work with the City to develop an ordinance to allow for the historic signage “TagWhat” designations, which allow individuals to access additional information about a building from smartphones, were also developed by the class.
Benitz, in his “Look Ahead” speech said that “businesses must constantly change and evolve to meet the needs of their customers, or someone else will.”
Failure to do that will result in stagnation and irrelevance, he said.
“It’s vitally important that the Chamber remain a healthy, active entity that is well placed in the mission today and tomorrow. And we persist in seeking new programs and new revenue sources that help us help you,” Benitz proclaimed, adding that new programs are planned by the Chamber in 2013, citing a new and improved website, an expanded Chamber member directory, and a combined Chamber-CBCD Committee.
The new committee “will give input on marketing plans, oversee financial status, identify and support legislative issues important to the Chamber, and assist in a wide variety of visitor services,” Benitz said.
Special attention will be given this year to cultivating membership and its benefits, Benitz concluded.
Lastly, Benitz presented a special award to Smith for Thinking Outside the Box. “I think that you and the Chamber have found a new path, a new way to go. I think we have a lot of exciting things coming, and I think you’re a driving force behind that,” Benitz said of Smith.
“The Chamber is in my blood, and it’s there to stay, it’s one of my passions. I’m very honored,” Smith said after receiving the award. “And if there’s anything I can do for any of you, my door is always open.” Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.