The Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce recognized community leaders, volunteers and new members with 14 awards during its annual recognition dinner Thursday night at the Sedalia Country Club.
Chamber president Doug Benitz told a packed dining room that the 300-member business group continues to strive to “stay relevant” to the city and county-at-large.
“The success of this chamber and every chamber is defined by the members,” Benitz said.
He went on to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments and to look ahead to 2013, telling the crowd that signs point to a slowly improving economy and a better economic outlook for the community.
“We may have reached the bottom, and that alone might be cause for celebration,” Benitz said.
Connie Smith, the chamber’s executive director, was recognized by Benitz with a “Thinking Outside the Box” award as she marks her two-year anniversary heading up the group.
Smith said “the chamber is in my blood,” and thanked members for their continued support.
The chamber also singled out the 2011-12 Sedalia Leadership Class and members of the T-Tax Committee for major undertakings over the last year.
Members of the leadership group were recognized for their downtown historic signage project, which includes historical marker signs at different buildings downtown, including the Commerce Building, Total Look Salon Building, Hotel Bothwell, Pettis County Courthouse, Uptown Theater and the Trust Building. Included in the project were nine Tagwhat “tags” — part of an application for smartphones that acts as an encyclopedia, allowing visitors to access Internet links to learn more about the significance of each site.
The T-Tax committee, chaired by Jim Mathewson and Jim Callis, secured easy passage of the city’s percentage-based tourism tax on hotels based largely on a public education campaign designed by Smith-Cotton High School DECA students.
Mathewson praised the efforts of students and their former adviser, Angie Dick, who now is director of marketing at Inter-State Studios.
“She put the DECA group with us and they did a heck of a job on that campaign. They knocked on doors, they met with different groups, and they took that presentation and won (a state DECA award),” Mathewson said. “Angie, you and your DECA young people did a wonderful job.”
Longtime chamber members Eva Meyers, Judy and Richard Parkhurst were honored for their contributions to the chamber, each receiving a Lifetime Membership Award.
An emotional Meyers praised the chamber and said she enjoyed working with the group.
“The chamber has a special place in my heart,” Meyers said.
The 2013 Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce Awards and Recognition recipients were:
• Special Project of the Year: 2011-12 Sedalia Leadership Class
• President’s Award: T-Tax Committee — House Bill 161- Chairs Jim Mathewson and Jim Callis
• Volunteer of the Year Award: Dave Phillips
• Sedalia Progress Award: Bothwell Regional Health Center
• Committee of the Year: Piccadilly Gala
• Horizon Award: David Grupe, Town and County Insurance
• Ambassador of the Year: Diane Zinn
• Spirit Award: Jennifer Greene, director of community relations, Whiteman Air Force Base.
• Hospitality Award: Rick & Merilee Weaver and Tom Rob
• Outstanding Citizen Award: Elle Duggan
• New Member of the Year: Maureen O’Hare, AJEWEL Home Décor and More
• Lifetime Membership Award: Eva Meyers, Judy and Richard Parkhurst
• Director’s Award: Carolyn Crooker
• Thinking Outside the Box Award: Connie Smith