Pacesetters named at banquet
Nevada and Vernon County residents, businesses and organizations continued the practice of saluting those setting the pace toward excellence at the annual Nevada/Vernon County Chamber of Commerce Pacesetter Awards Banquet, held Saturday at the Eagles Lodge in Nevada.
Winners were announced in four categories -- large businesses, small businesses, agriculture and community involvement.
The Large Business Pacesetter winner was Max Motors., which presenter Judy Feuquay described as a "relative newcomer" to Nevada's business community.
Max Motors has been "very involved" in the county, providing vehicles to the community upon request, donating to Nevada Area Habitat for Humanity and Home Building Program, said Feuquay, also citing the company's investment of more than $1 million to remodel its building and "contributing to the revitalization of our community."
Owner Mark Muller praised his staff as the primary reason for his company's success.
"People are the key to any business," he said. "We've put together a good team. I'm honored to accept this for our employees."
Muller also introduced his brother, Erich, a popular radio personality known professionally as "Mancow," who was in Nevada shooting an episode for History Channel.
History channel employees were tight lipped about the upcoming episode, which is tentatively scheduled to be broadcast in July.
Referring to the conservative views shared by the brothers, Muller urged attendees to stand firm in their beliefs and be proud of their roots.
"I don't think we ought to apologize for who we are," he said.
Other nominees were for the large business award U.S. Bank, W.F. Norman Corporation, Wilkinson Pharmacy and 3M.
Cherry's Sports Pub and Grill was tapped as the Small Business Pacesetter winner.
"Life is a journey," owner David Cherry said. "Just a year ago I was trying to figure out what to do with my life after being released from the Campbell Soup Company. At age 50, I was among those who had been downsized."
Cherry came back to Nevada, remodeled an older building, and launched his new business.
"I'm extremely touched to be back in my hometown, to have this success and to receive this honor."
He said it is sometimes hard to believe how his life has changed.
"I figured I'd be serving green bean casserole to you guys because that's what they do best," he said of his former employer.
Board president Dr. Ron Schowengerdt praised Cherry for improving the aesthetics of an old American veterans building and "offering a fun, smoke free sports place for people of all ages."
Other nominees were Ray's Trophies and Golden Needle Embroidery, On My Own Inc., Hoffman Financial Resources, and Buildet LLC.
ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) of Deerfield, a processing plant for soybeans in a variety of agricultural commercial and industrial uses, was one of two winners of the Agriculture Pacesetter award.
John Baumgartner, plant manager for the business, spoke of the uses of soy products in food and fuel and thanked the "farmers of the area for contributing to a vital industry in this town." He added his appreciation for the company's employees and its contractors and vendors as he accepted the award along with his commercial manager Tim Cassidy.
The Vernon County Future Farmers of America program was the other winner.
"It's an exciting journey to see what these students are doing." said Nevada Regional Technical Center Director Dr. Phillip Witt, flanked by several of his FFA students. "It's an honor to see these students recognized for what they do."
Other nominees were Murphy Brown, Kennedy-Burch Family Farms and Garton Farms.
The Superheroes of Kindness were selected the Community Involvement Pacesetter winners.
The Community Involvement Award -- also known as the Wayne Neal Award -- recognizes people, businesses or organizations that show a commitment to improving their community through involvement, action and giving back.
City Manager JD Kehrman introduced the nominees for this award, calling them "people of action who enrich our community."
"Our area is a better place because of them," he said.
Phil Bures, community center manager with the parks and recreation department, introduced the students from St. Mary's School.
Bures recalled having the idea for such a group, getting the support of Parks and Recreation Director Dana Redburn, and then getting a buy-in from the school.
Noting that the students cut out and decorated all the paper hearts on display at the tables throughout the Eagles Lodge for the chamber banquet, he admitted, "It's hard to beat a kid in a cape."
Bures thanked St. Mary's and the students, who were decked out in their capes, part of their attire when they make their calls on city businesses, organizations and entities in bestowing their riches of kindness.
"Who wouldn't love a little kid painting a heart and delivering it to you wearing a cape?" he asked.
Other nominees were Cherry's Sports Pub and Grill, Gene Payne of Max Motors, the Vernon County Youth Task Force, and Doug Harper.
Chamber Board President Ron Schowengerdt presented a special award to past board president Mike Brown for his hard work in promoting the chamber and increasing its membership.
Brown presented outgoing chamber executive director Gina Ensor with the Presidents' Award for her dedication and hard work for the chamber.
Ensor is leaving to spend more time with her family and a husband whose work includes extensive travel,
"I am going to miss the chamber," Ensor said, but quite frankly when it comes to the happiness of my family, that's my first priority.
She said she is confident she is leaving the chamber in good hands with the recent naming of new director Jennifer Eaton, who she described as a "wonderful addition."
Publisher Floyd Jernigan contributed to this report.