Local leaders in the fields of business, industry, education, social services, education and civic affairs gathered at the Maryville Country Club Wednesday for the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet.
Outgoing Chamber President Beth Hawkins of Innovative Web Concepts officially passed the gavel to new President Audra Bradley, sales manager at 97.1 the 'Vill/KNIM Radio, who will lead the organization over the next 12 months.
This year's Chamber theme is "Open for Business," a phrase that was sounded several times during the evening and symbolized by a ribbon-cutting conducted by Hawkins, Bradley and Chamber Executive Director Luke Reven. The ceremony mimicked those performed by Chamber members when new stores and shops first open their doors.
During a brief acceptance speech, Bradley pledged to "put the spotlight on small business" during her term, and also said she would work to improve benefits and services offered to Chamber members.
Reven, who delivered the keynote address, called the past 12 months "a year of innovation" for the Chamber, citing such programs as the "White Christmas Sweepstakes" shop-local program and a series of workplace-improvement seminars hosted in partnership with Northwest Missouri State University.
He also mentioned continuing efforts to help Maryville absorb the economic blow delivered by last year's announcement that the Energizer battery plant would close in late 2013. The shut-down means that more than 400 people, most of them Nodaway County residents, have either lost or will lose their jobs.
Over the coming months, Reven said, the Chamber will continue to work with local and state agencies and economic development officials in order to "care for displaced workers and market our community to prospective employers."
On other fronts, Reven told Chamber members that the popular Chamber Bucks gift certificate program would return this year, but that the promotion is switching from a paper format to plastic cards, which are to be phased in over the next several years.
During their comments, Both Reven and Hawkins issued thanks to departing Chamber board members Mike Herring of Hy-Vee and Dan Hegeman of Kansas City Power & Light.
Two individuals, one school and one business were honored with awards during the banquet. Those recognized included:
∙Local broadcaster and business owner Matt Gaarder, who received the Spearhead Award for his decade of service as director of the annual Maryville Marathon. The race, which attracts more than 250 runners each year, requires a coordinated effort by a team of more than 50 volunteers.
∙Tri-State Ford Lincoln, which was recognized with the Business of the Year Award for numerous efforts in support of education and community events, including the annual Drive One 4 UR School promotion that has raised $39,000 for Maryville R-II School District sports programs and extracurricular activities.
Page 2 of 2 - In addition, the dealership, which has 38 employees, helps sponsor such events as the Nodaway County Fair Parade and town festivals in Hopkins and Ravenwood. The award was accepted by Tri-State owner Todd Hill.
∙St. Gregory's School, which received the Community Service Award for a variety of student-led charitable and philanthropic projects throughout the year, including a food drive that netted 3,000 pounds of non-perishable foodstuffs and $1,000 in cash for the Maryville Ministry Center pantry.
∙David Bell, who was given the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his 27-year career with Community Services Inc.
Operating in several northwest Missouri counties, Community Services administers or helps coordinate numerous programs for lower-income families, individuals and children, including Head Start, housing and weatherization assistance, nutritional assistance and Habitat for Humanity. Bell retired as the organization's executive director in September.