The ‘feeling’ grows

Spirit of enthusiasm, courage and gratitude lingers from 2014 Chamber Gala Event

By Darrel Radford | 3.07.2014

Keith Trent offers a hug to head-injury survivor Chris Williams | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

They had a feeling.

You could hear it from the animated chatter that filled the halls of the Madison Park Church of God. You could see it in the emotional reactions of business owners who received recognition. You could taste it, not just in the fine food that was served, but in the sweet success stories that were just desserts for the hard workers and dare-to-dream partnerships. You could feel it in the handshakes, high-fives and hugs that spread throughout the room.

The 2014 Madison County Chamber annual awards gala, held March 6, was a tour de force of inspiration, honor and thanksgiving.

It was, as the Black-Eyed Peas song suggested, a good night. A very good night. A night when more than 350 people seemed to join hands and shout “We are Madison County!” A night not only to remember, but build on for the future.

Buzz began even before the Gala started

Former chamber employer, Betty Williams, enjoys the buzz of networking | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

There was an excited buzz in the room even before the event began.

“It’s always great to get this many people from the community in the same room and share our hopes and dreams with each other.” said Sally DeVoe of the Madison County Community Foundation and chamber board member.

A true business couple – Lisa Singleton Roberts of Toscana Event Center and Sam Roberts of Sam Roberts Plumbing – praised the Madison County Chamber for its efforts in putting together another memorable event.

“We really believe in the Chamber,” Lisa said.

David Eckstein, owner of Eckstein's House of Awards and one of the 50-year business honorees, echoed those sentiments. The man who has helped hundreds present trophies for all kinds of occasions offered a verbal salute to the Chamber.

“I appreciate the chamber making this event possible,” Eckstein said. “A lot of businesses deserve to be recognized.”

Those included Lampco Federal Credit Union, another 50-year honoree and Donahue Gas, which has been in business 75 years. Both were also honored at the gala.

A delicious event, courageous spirits

MCC board chair, Tammy Rimer, co-emcees with Keith Trent | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

An interesting blend of the past, present and future made the event, held at the Madison Park Church of God, delicious – in more ways than one.

Tone for the evening was set by co-emcee Tammy Rimer, president of Element 212 and chairperson of the chamber board, when she shared a quote from Margaret Mead, a 20th century cultural anthropologist and author.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

A courageous spirit seemed to elevate that quote. The invocation was delivered by Anderson University’s Chris Williams, who is battling back from a serious injury. His prayer was an important and poignant reminder to all.

“Help us to remember all things are possible with you, God,” Williams said in his prayer.

MCC president Kyle Morey waives to gala guests | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Also present in spite of suffering from injuries received in a serious accident was Kyle Morey, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer.

“Nothing was going to keep me away from this night,” Morey said. “Sometimes, inspiration is the best medicine and I couldn’t be in a better place tonight for that.”

Ivy Tech and Mounds Lake Reservoir

CED's Rob Sparks gives an update on Mounds Lake | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Some of the conversation before and during the event focused on two exciting developments coming soon to Madison County – a new Ivy Tech facility and Mounds Lake reservoir project.

Andy Bowne, chancellor for this region of Ivy Tech, was glad to be among the crowd toasting Madison County success.

“These are important events in the life of a community,” Bowne said.

Plans call for a new 85,000 square-foot Ivy Tech facility in Anderson to open in August 2015. The facility will include new health and science labs.

“We’re hoping to become an important part of Madison County’s success story,” Bowne said.

Meanwhile, the Mounds Lake Reservoir project drew this comment from one of the presenters, who expressed himself with the “I got a feeling” theme.

“I got a feeling that property values are going to go up in Chesterfield,” he said, referring to the impact the reservoir will have.

Wisdom, appreciation and thanks

Words of wisdom, appreciation and thanksgiving came during the chamber awards presentations.

Max Hains, whose MoFab Inc. was a nominee along with Gaither Music Company for Small Business of the Year, said “You’re either moving forward or backward. There’s no in between.”

It was obvious during the parade of presentations that Madison County, once hard-hit by a sluggish automobile industry, is revved up and moving forward on a new road to success.

Kris Sandman humbly accepts FAB! award | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Kris Sandman, the FAB! Winner, was in an unusual spot, standing in front of a crowd instead of working behind the scenes.

“I’m not used to public speaking. To be honest, I’d rather be out there in the crowd, carrying your dishes,” said the general manager of The Edge.

But then, Sandman served up some eloquence of her own.

“Madison County is so blessed to have so many wonderful people, people who are so competent, so dedicated, so loyal.”

Ambassador of the Year's Coleen Rector shares award with the community | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Coleen Rector, the 2013 Ambassador of the Year, had a short and oh-so-sweet reaction to her award. Visibly moved, she simply said “I love Madison County.”

Chairman award winner Barb Alder credits her parents | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Barb Alder, winner of the 2013 Chairman’s Award, said Anderson had been transformed “from a one-company town to a global destination for manufacturing” thanks in part to the Purdue University connection. She was honored and humbled to receive the award, especially in front of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Alder.

Donald Henderson receives Keith J Pitcher Award | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Meanwhile, the Keith J. Pitcher Character In Business Award recipient reminded the crowd that behind every good man is a good woman.

“It’s not often you find a politician speechless,” said Don Henderson, who was president of the Pendleton Town Council for many years and had leadership roles with Farm Bureau for decades.

Henderson then paid tribute to his wife, Shirley, whom he has been married to for more than 58 years.

“Sixty-three years ago, I was her first date and about six years later, she was my last date,” Henderson said.

Pete Bitar congratulates Ron and Brenda Kinsey on their award | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Henderson’s wasn’t the only “happy marriage” story of the night. Ron Kinsey, who has helped many Madison County residents go places – literally – with his Modern Trailer Sales Business, said his daughter met her future husband at a campground.

Modern Trailer Sales, now in its 63rd year of operation, was selected as “small business of the year” for the consistent and family-friendly way it has helped hundreds realize big travel dreams.

Kinsey admitted that he “didn’t prepare a speech” but said the business was “like a family” to him, one that grows with every sale.

Home-grown story-telling at its best

Luke Renner and David Neidert tearfully accept their award | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Emotion was evident in the voices of The Story Shop partners as they received the “emerging business of the year” award.

“I share this with every person who has trusted us with their story,” said Dave Neidert, who accepted the award with business partner Luke Renner. The fact that they were visibly moved was, in a way, poetic, since The Story Shop has brought emotion and poignant moments to Madison County through its work at video production.

Red Gold's Brian Reichart receives award for best video | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

One such video on Red Gold was voted on as “the people’s choice” for best video of the year.

That company, now in its fourth generation of family ownership, has 1,300 employees and is the largest privately held food producer in the nation.

Non-profit, much-appreciated

Award winner Richard DeHaven praises nominees CASA and Dove Harbor | Photo by Cliff Ritchey

Perhaps the spirit of the evening was captured best by the words of Rich DeHaven as he accepted the non-profit of the year award for ASPIRE Indiana.

“We see this award as a validation to the hard work we do and impact we have on the quality of life in Madison County,” DeHaven said. “We have great admiration for the other two nominees (CASA and Dove Harbor). We work with both organizations and they are invaluable to what we do.”

ASPIRE makes a daily difference in the lives of many. For example:

+ It serves almost a third of the state’s HIV AIDS clients. + It treats kids with behavioral or emotional issues, even making “house calls” to serve. + It assists the chronic unemployed in returning to the workforce and actually runs a small farming operation to provide jobs for some who grow vegetables for the popular Madison County Farmer’s Market.

“The work we do is important,” DeHaven said. “On an annual basis, we serve 11,000 people. A lot of them have parents, spouses, employers and friends who live right here in Madison County. We end up touching the lives of a lot of people on an annual basis.”

“We live on the fact that people have the ability to change and grow,” said Susie Maier, director of outpatient services for Aspire.

That could also be said for Madison County. The gala served as a microcosm of local communities that are changing and growing thanks to an effective blend of new ideas mixed with tried-and-true values.

Indeed Thursday, March 6, was a good night. A very good night. Many no doubt left the gala with a feeling that there are going to be a lot more good nights – and days – for Madison County in the years to come.

> Visit the Gala WALL OF GAME

Watch Award Nominee Trailers

View Gala Photo Album



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