Chamber anounces winners at Gala Saturday

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Photos by Floyd Jernigan Corey Johnson listens as Dr. Ron Schowengerdt tells the audience of Johnson's various community endeavors as Aimee Meyers listens. Johnson was one of two winners for this year's Community Involvement Pacesetter award.

Nevada Daily Mail

Corey Johnson and Mary Mitchell were the recipients of the Community Involvement Pacesetter Award for 2013, with the Vernon County Farmers' Market, Con-Way Trucking, and 54 Feed and Seed also winning Pacesetter awards at the annual Nevada Vernon County Chamber of Commerce Gala Saturday night at the Eagles.

Past chamber president and current vice president Dr. Ron Schowengerdt was also recognized for his myriad volunteer efforts on behalf of the chamber and the community.

Mary Mitchell, far right, was "shocked" by her nomination and "honored" by being one of two recipients for this year's Community Involvement Pacesetter award presented by Ron Schoengerdt, left, and Aimee Meyers.

Schowengerdt and Aimee Meyer, current chamber board president, alternated introducing the winners and providing the background for the selection.

Johnson is the driving force behind the Teen Angel program sponsored by the Nevada Lions Club and has also been active in United Way, Bushwhacker Days, Healthy Nevada and the holiday parade.

The Teen Angel program, completing its fifth year, provides gifts for impoverished teenagers ages 13 to 18.

With a growing list of young people needing basic necessities, the program delivers gift bags, each worth around $200, to more than 125 recipients annually.

Johnson, upon receiving the award, noted, "The Teen Angel program has changed my life."

He recalled a visit to a youngster who was sleeping on the floor in his family's kitchen and his (Johnson's) efforts to provide him with a mattress, which took multiple deliveries and the special help of a Ziggy comic book before the gift actually found its way to the boy.

"It's all about making a difference for kids in our community," in helping ease the poverty level here, he said. "I'm proud to know I've made a difference."

Johnson challenged those in the audience to do what they could to make a difference. "All of us here have enough connections that we can help these kids."

Mitchell was cited for her work with the Vernon County Youth Task Force in "helping empower middle school and high school students to set goals and to reach them.

"They have taught them to be an example to others around them. Mary has been instrumental in bringing quality motivational speakers to our community to speak to our youth about making good choices and following their dreams," noted the introduction of the winner.

Mitchell's volunteer effort Dream Books, which has spread from Nevada schools to the Bronaugh, Sheldon and Walker school systems, engages young students in what they want to be, what they want to do, and what they want to have in life.

She is also in the midst of leading the effort to bring motivational speaker Kyle Maynard to the area to share his message of empowerment and overcoming obstacles.

Mitchell shared a story of a sixth grader in the program, to illustrate the power of dreams, noting she marveled at the depth of the boy's thinking.

She said when the sixth grader was asked what he wanted to be, he responded with, "Be a really good dad, a really good husband and a really good employee."

She added that the student, when asked what he wanted to do, had said he wanted to go to Paris, kiss a girl at sunset at what is known as the Lock Bridge, and throw away the key, referring to a love padlock, which sweethearts lock to a bridge, fence, gate, or similar public fixture to symbolize their love. Typically the sweethearts' names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love.

Other nominees for the award included Wayne Prewitt, Mike Turnbull and Dr. Phillip Witt.

54 Feed & Seed LLC won the Pacesetter Award in the small business (less than 20 employees) category.

"54 Feed & Seed's intent is to provide families with friendly, knowledgeable, personal service in their feed and farm supplies, along with helpful advice in their lawns and gardens," noted the introduction.

"The focus of 54 Feed & Seed was to bring Purina Feed back to Nevada and team it with the type of independent garden center most avid gardeners previously had to drive to the city to find. "Staci Andersen has generously given back to the community by donating her services to clubs, civic groups, pretty much anyone that asks for help."

Debbi's Herb Shop, Missouri Career Center, Nevada Housing Authority and Rinehart Jewelry were also nominated.

The Vernon County Farmers' Market won the Pacesetter in the agribusiness category.

"Kelly Ast and the farmers' market group have proved the need and desire of this community to have a quality farmers' market. They offer healthy choices to our citizens. They have also included fun activities to bring families together.

"By changing the location and adding entertainment, classes, contests, etc. to the venue each and every week, the farmers' market was a huge success and looks to be even bigger in 2014."

Murphy Family Ventures, R&R Equipment and Record Harvest Enterprises Inc. were nominees.

Con-way Freight was the winner in the large business category.

"Con-way Trucking has shown commitment to this community. Having outgrown their existing facility, a major expansion of Con-way Freight's terminal in 2012 and 2013 allowed them to remain in the Nevada area," noted the introduction.

"They more than doubled the number of freight docks to increase their capacity. They improved and greatly enlarged their parking lot.

"Relocating their offices to temporary facilities, they then undertook a total remodel of the office interior. They used a local general contractor, Erwin Construction, Inc., as well as local subcontractors for the work."

Also nominated were 3M, the city of Nevada and Woods Supermarket.

As the former chamber board president, Dr. Ron Schowengerdt received a standing ovation from the audience for his work on behalf of the chamber and to better the community.

He expressed his thanks to all those he has worked with in various capacities on the chamber and in the community, but paid a special thanks to his wife Linda, "my office manager, my confidant, and my business partner."

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