Chamber Main Street recognizes top supporters

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

It was a night to celebrate special achievements and build momentum for a promising future, as Sheboygan Falls Chamber-Main Street staged its 22nd Annual Meeting and Dinner Thursday, March 18, at The Villager in Sheboygan Falls.

The gala event, which drew 76 Chamber-Main Street members, volunteers, supporters and business leaders, featured the presentation of several special awards for outstanding volunteer and community service.

Chamber-Main Street Program Coordinator Shirl Breunig introduced Gary Thede as the winner of the 2009 Volunteer of the Year Award.

“Ducktona is our biggest event of the year,” Breunig said. “It takes a huge effort to organize 120 volunteers and put everything in place for a top-flight event.

“One of the cornerstones of Ducktona is the Classic Car Show,” she said. “Over the past several years, Gary has stepped up to help the show become one of the best in the state.”

Breunig noted how the show has grown substantially over the past three years.

“Under Gary’s direction, the number of vehicles in the show has gone through the roof,” she said. “In 2007, we had 250, and in 2008 that number jumped to 350. Just when I thought there was no way we could fit any more cars into River Park, Gary found a way, and the show broke all records last year with 403 cars.

“Gary is known to travel to car shows throughout the state to find the best cars for our show. His leadership in making the car show a huge success has been remarkable and inspirational.”

Breunig also distributed Outstanding Service Awards to John and Jean Blattner and Chamber-Main Street Board President Jim Fasse.

“John and Jean are well known in the community for being huge supporters of nearly everything going on in Sheboygan Falls,” she said. “They have sponsored and contributed to so many events, activities and projects, that it is hard to keep track of all of them. Loyal and enthusiastic support like that is very hard to come by.”

“When we need someone to chair Ducktona, Jim came forward to take on that large challenge with plenty of enthusiasm,” Breunig said. “Not only did he bring in a lot of energy by himself, he also brought along his entire family to lend its support.

“His special efforts have helped to make Ducktona into one of the most outstanding community events in the state,” she said.

Chamber-Main Street Executive Director Nancy Verstrate recognized Jacci O’Dwanny with the Board Member of the Year Award.

“Jacci’s dedication to natural beauty can be seen throughout Sheboygan Falls,” Verstrate said. “Her work is visible in the beautifully arranged and maintained flowers and plants boxes located throughout the city.

“She waters and fertilizes tirelessly and can often be spotted with her little red wagon full of gardening supplies,” she said “I can’t imagine how many trips she has made to the landfill to gather potting soil and recycled greens. Jacci is part of the next generation of leadership that will keep our organization thriving for many years to come.”

Verstrate introduced The Sheboygan Falls News as the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Community Service Award.

“The relationship between a community and the media is an important one,” she said. “I’m proud to say that we have a very strong relationship with the media in Sheboygan Falls.

“In the age of the Internet and instant information, community news can get lost in the shuffle. The need for a constant and reliable source of local news and information can’t be underestimated. Whether it is government news, school activities, sporting events or business profiles, The Sheboygan Falls News covers our community in an exceptional way.”

Editor Jeff Pederson accepted the award on behalf of The Sheboygan Falls News staff.

Outgoing Chamber-Main Street Board member Brian Beeck was honored with the Board Member Service Award.

Kathryn Schwark of Richardson Furniture Emporium was welcomed as the newest member of the board.

The 2010 board includes: Fasse (president), Dorothy Schueffner of Falls Firehouse Pizza (vice president), Brian Passehl of American Family Insurance (treasurer), John Blattner (past president), Linda Cates of the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice, Mike Kennedy of B&B Ford, Schel Kidd of The Wine House, Al Mayer of Wells Fargo, O’Dwanny, Steve Schmitt of Jos. Schmitt Construction, Dr. Chris Tempas, Verstrate and Breunig.

Business Milestone Awards went to Jeanne Rollo of Wells Fargo Bank (10 years), Lori Zeier of Bemis Bath Shoppe (15 years), John and Jean Blattner of Blattner’s Piggly Wiggly (15 years), Peter and Marilyn Mersberger of Mersberger Financial Group (15 years), Wayne Warnecke of WSTM/WJUB (20 years), Jim Fasse of Fasse Paint Industrial (20 years), Mike Kennedy of Jon Kennedy’s B&B Ford (45 years), Jerry and Judy Selk of Falls Glass (60 years) and Roger Leys of Pine Haven Christian Home (60 years).

Kidd introduced World of Wine, a new event to be held at the Bemis showroom Thursday, May 13.

“Tonight I am pleased to announce this event, which will bring together the worlds of food and wine in one fantastic evening,” he said. “It will support Chamber-Main Street, so the money raised will go back to support the community.”

Fasse closed the event by singling out the efforts of Verstrate and Breunig.

“It’s no secret 2009 was a challenging year for many of us, including Chamber-Main Street,” he said. “Nancy and Shirl were faced with the difficult task of balancing our budget, reducing expenses, keeping track of all our volunteers and putting together top-notch special events, among many other duties.

“No matter what the situation, Nancy and Shirl always seem to maintain a positive attitude with a smile on their faces. They are the reason we have such a strong, active membership and large and dedicated group of volunteers.”

Following the awards presentation, Dr. John Reitz and Passehl served as guest auctioneers for a live auction, which featured 12 unique items, with proceeds benefiting future Chamber-Main Street community activities, events and improvement projects.

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