New award honors efforts for tourism

Anchors away! Business and civic leaders as well as community volunteers were honored at the 96th annual Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce awards banquet held Saturday evening.
The St. Pat’s Ballroom at the Havener Center on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus was filled to recognize this year’s award winners, which included a new honor for tourism efforts.
The theme of this year’s banquet was “Come Sail Away,” and the tables were decorated with a nautical theme.
This year, six awards were presented to individuals, organizations and businesses for their contributions to the Rolla community.
Chamber members nominate those in the community for the awards, and chamber committees select the winners. Stevie Kearse, Rolla’s chamber executive director, presented the awards.
Winning the Edmund Ward Bishop Award this year was John Butz, Rolla city administrator. This award is presented to an individual who is generally recognized as having made a significant contribution to the prosperity and the quality of life in Rolla.
The Great Race Committee received the Annual Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual or group of people who have shown exceptional service by volunteering and significantly contributing to the chamber of commerce and/or the Rolla community. Those on the committee recognized included Cansada Hines, Scott Hines, Lori Daharsh, Kevin Daharsh, Jim Larson, Steve Hargis, Anne McClay, Dawn Smith, Loretta Wallis and Kim Morgan.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, presented to an individual who has led his or her company toward significant entrepreneurial success in its industry, was given to Mike and Troy Duncan, of A-1 Moving and Storage.
Hartley’s Climate Control won the Small Business of the Year Award. This award is presented to a business in the Rolla area that has excelled in one or more of these categories: business growth, business management and human capital, community involvement, intangible considerations and marketing.
Faith Barnes received the Spirit of Rolla Award. This award, sponsored annually by Kent Jewelry, is presented to a woman in the community in recognition for significant achievement and/or lifetime contribution to the spirit of giving that is so indicative of Rolla and the surrounding community.
And a new award this year — the Tourism Champion Award — was given to Jim Larson. This award is presented to an individual or business that embodies the spirit of tourism in Rolla. This individual or business has made a substantial contribution to Rolla’s tourism industry by supporting Rolla events and/or attractions, partnering with the chamber on tourism-related projects or any other effort designed to bring visitors into the Rolla community.
More information about the winners is available in a special section inside Monday’s (Jan. 18) edition of The Rolla Daily News.
Also during the evening, Earl Bean, last year’s chamber board president, recapped highlights of 2015, which was “over in a heartbeat,” he said.
Among the “significant accomplishments” he mentioned were the Great Race, the chamber’s support for the Fort Leonard Wood listening session, the continued support of the Rolla Veterans Memorial Park as well as continuing efforts to expand Rolla’s tourism footprint and the Shop Local campaign.
The chamber also presented the most-ever scholarships through the Show-Me Scholars Initiative in 2015. Bean said a total of 61 students were recognized  through the program.
The chamber held 47 ribbon-cuttings last year, and 52 new members joined the chamber in 2015, bringing the total membership to over 460.
A video of the highlights of 2015 also was shown, and chamber staff, including Kearse, Aimee Campbell, Andrea Rigsby and Robin Southern, also known as the Chamber Chicks, were recognized.
Outgoing chamber board of director members were honored, including Amy Mitchell, Mark Wood, Josh Stacy and Barry White. However, only White and Mitchell were able to attend Saturday night. White has served on the chamber board since 2008, Kearse noted.
New chamber members include Tonya Bramel-Greven, Tony Froehlich, Roy Jacobs and Elissa Jennison.
As is tradition, Bean passed the gavel to Wendy Young, the 2016 chamber board president. Young said she learned a lot from Bean, and would always ask, “WWED? What would Earl do?”
Young is a loan officer at Phelps County Bank, where she has worked since 1989. She moved to Rolla the year prior.
Chamber Ambassadors are awarded points for their service, and once they reach certain goals, they are awarded stars.
Ambassadors honored Saturday included Kent Bagnall, Dawn Smith, Bill Jenks III, Kathy Oliver, Barry White, Jim Standfast, Gina Zervos, Don Brackhahn, Nick Barrack, Earl Bean and Robert Edwards. Brackhahn has the most points, and Kearse said a tree will be planted in his honor.