The local business community celebrated another successful year together at the 18th Annual Cuba Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet at Recklein Auditorium on Friday, May 2. Several awards were handed out that evening, with the highlight coming at the end of the night, when longtime chamber volunteer Norma Bretz received the Citizen of the Year Award.
Bretz was recognized by the chamber for her continued support for the Cuba business community and its chamber of commerce. Lesa Mizell was also nominated for the Citizen of the Year Award.
Cuba High School student Alexa Rogers took home the Youth in the Spotlight Award, presented to a current student demonstrating a deep dedication to both community and school. Kristen Ramori and Lena Alsup were also nominated for the award, and all three nominees received $25 gas cards sponsored by Peoples Bank, Bank of Sullivan, and First Community National Bank.
Erik Lowes of Lowes Landscaping received the Entrepreneur Award, which is presented to a chamber member demonstrating a “true enterprising spirit” in creating or retaining local jobs. Midwest Petroleum also received a nomination for the award.
The Rookie Award went to the Mexican restaurant Riviera Maya. The award is earmarked for a chamber member beginning its operations in 2013 and providing new jobs and services for Cuba. Other nominees were the yogurt shop Dessert Island and Liquidatornation.com, an online and storefront retailer dealing in overstocked merchandise.
Dessert Island was also nominated for—and won—the Beautification Award, which is presented to a chamber member making substantial aesthetic improvements to their building, landscape, or property in 2013. Riviera Maya was also nominated for this award.
This year’s Volunteer of the Year Award went to Faye Howard. She was recognized for her dedication for civic and other nonprofit organization commitments, along with her willingness to serve as a volunteer in the community. Genifer Cape and Don Martin also received nominations for the volunteer award.
Part of the community since 1974, Mullally Distributing walked away with the Pioneer Award, which is given to a current or former business owner and chamber member operating in the Cuba area for 15 years or more. The award serves to recognized longstanding businesses that contribute to the community through continued growth, expansion, and job creation. Other nominees for the Pioneer Award included Hayes Shoe Store, Mace’s Supermarket, and Jim’s Motors.
Dinner at this year’s awards banquet was prepared and served by Cuba Lakes Golf Club. DJ Steve Black provided music during the social hour and silent auction, and Franky Todd helped with auctioneering during the live auction. John Rice of KTUI radio was the event’s emcee.
Sean Siebert served as keynote speaker, discussing the need for small business innovation and entrepreneurship to serve as the driving force of economic development both locally and statewide.
During a brief business portion of the banquet, Jessica Barron was introduced as the new chamber president, as outgoing president Carrie Myers handed over her gavel. The 2014-15 Cuba Chamber board of directors includes: Jessica Barron, president; Erik Lowes, vice-president; Joseph Frana, treasurer; Mariah Strosnider, secretary; Stacey Curtis; Darren Dake; Teresa Fudge; Faye Howard; Darin Layman; Wendy Nye; Renee Ross; and Lisa Storz.