By Krystal Fowler Lifestyle Editor
The Daily Iowegian
---- — The annual Chamber of Commerce banquet was held at the Manhattan Restaurant Tuesday evening, with Chamber Executive Director Joyce Bieber welcomed guests and outlining successes the chamber has had over the last year as well as what new programs the chamber wants to pursue in 2014.
Bieber spoke about the success the chamber’s revamped and updated website and management system have been having in 2013 and encouraged chamber members to remain engaged with the site and to update their information on a regular basis.
She revealed a few of the businesses receiving the most traffic on the site, including Bessie’s Barn and Tangleberries. Bieber also said that there were more than 200,000 searches for events on the site from February of 2013 through December of 2013 as well as more than 39,000 business searches.
An award was presented to the most engaged chamber member of 2013, Ottumwa Radio. In giving the award, Bieber also revealed the top 11 most engaged chamber members of the year. The number 10 place was a tie between two members. Some of the criteria used to determine the list included having updated information on the chamber’s site, paying chamber dues on time and being involved in events either through sponsorship or volunteering among other things.
The list included, tied for 10th place Henry Ortmann and Northside Insurance, ninth place Curwood, eighth place Mercy Medical Center, seventh place Iowa Trust and Saving’s Bank, sixth place Exline County Store, fifth place Daily Iowegian, fourth place Hy-Vee, third place State Farm Insurance and second place Tangleberries.
Bieber also unveiled the new program, Operation Lead the Way Centerville, that will be a focus in 2014. The program seeks to get community members engaged in volunteerism and asks chamber member businesses to be leaders in the effort.
“It’s been shown that participating in activities outside the workplace as a group is good for employee morale inside the workplace,” said Bieber. “And our need for volunteers is growing as our baby boomers are retiring…we have needs for new volunteers to step up.”
The goal is to have 50 businesses participate in the program in 2014, with each business choosing a project the employees can work on together, whether it is a continuation of volunteerism that is already being done or a new addition to the work place. The program also asks that the businesses document and share their work with the community throughout the year.
“We want to build an environment where engagement and community involvement is the norm,” said Bieber.
Iowa Trust and Savings Bank was chosen as the Lead the Way leader for the year. Iowa Trust and Saving’s Bank Senior Vice President Mark Dekker spoke on behalf of Chairman, CEO and President Jeff Young.
“Over the years we’ve had the good fortune of bank employees and officers involved in civic groups and social groups, school boards, city councils, non-profits, United Way, Mercy Medical, just all over the board like many of you have,” said Dekker. “We’re going to determine a project in conjunction with Joyce that our employees are passionate about and that will make a positive difference to our citizens…and on behalf of Jeff Young we thank you for the opportunity and look forward to the first project that we have and the many success that Operation Lead the Way will have.”
Pancake Day Queen Maddison Lange spoke to the crowd about her experiences since being crowned queen in September as well as her upcoming competition and the work she is doing for her platform, which involves juvenile diabetes. Lange will be involved in The Amazing Walk, to benefit Type I Diabetes research and help Maggie Cowan, a local girl who has juvenile diabetes.
The event will take place Saturday, April 5 from 9-11 a.m. at the Howar Junior High gym with Lange doing the kick-off presentation at 8:30 a.m. The walk will be approximately two miles and will include both indoor and outdoor areas. All donations gathered will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Anyone interested in being involved should pre-register by March 26 with Melanie Cowan, by calling (641) 895-0985 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations may also be made online at www.walk.jdrf.org for Magamoo’s Walker’s, the team’s name.
The chamber said goodbye to outgoing president Marcia Bratz, who had served since mid-2012 when she took over for Doug Dopp, who left Centerville. Bratz introduced incoming president Dennis Peters, who spoke to the crowd about the need for positive energy in the community.
“I think what makes our community great is the people,” said Peters. “It’s these people that make up the life blood of our community. To often I hear from people the negativeness about Centerville and what we are not, what we don’t have, what we lack, the bad statistics…I would encourage you guys not to dwell on the negatives. Negativity is very contagious, but you know what, positivity is also. I am challenging everybody here to not only take a more active role in Centerville, but to just be more positive. It’s just more about a lifestyle, an energy.”
The 2013 Daily Iowegian Citizen of the Year award was also handed out by Daily Iowegian Publisher Becky Maxwell. The award has recognized deserving citizens since 1969 and relies on nominations from community members. The 2013 award went to Mark Hoffman, director of the Appanoose County Conservation Board. Maxwell highlighted some of Hoffman’s accomplishments while presenting the award.
“This person started on a career path more than 30 years ago and I bet at that time he did not realize that this career would not only become his job but his way of life,” said Maxwell. “He goes above and beyond the title that he holds and this is the main reason for the nomination for citizen of the year…he has been a loyal supporter of organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, White Tailed Deer and the Turkey Federation. He has served on the Great Places Committee, has been a Councilman for First Lutheran Church for many years and I am sure numerous other boards and committees.”
Maxwell also read excerpts from some of the nomination letters received by the Daily Iowegian.
“[One] letter stated, ‘Once a project becomes a goal, rest assured the goal will be reached even though the resources seem to be unavailable. He finds a way through his own hard work and determination,’” said Maxwell.
While accepting the award, Hoffman spoke about some of the accomplishments he is looking forward to completing in the next year, including finishing the cabins at Lelah Bradley Park.
The keynote speaker for the night was Charla Fox-Schafer, the creator of Foxville Entertainment who is also a humorist, motivational speaker and trainer. Fox-Schafer entertained the crowd with anecdotes and personal stories about how to “lower the bar” in personal and professional life in order to make change easier and aspire higher.
Fox-Schafer spoke about making big life changes and accomplishing large goals by focusing on each small step needed to reach the desired outcome. Fox-Schafer said for most people the toughest part of making a change is taking the first step so if a person sets the bar very low, it makes goals more attainable. So instead of focusing on “raising the bar” as most people recommend, Fox-Schafer kept the crowd laughing throughout the presentation with her advice on how to keep the bar low to the ground to make it possible for everyone to reach.
After Fox-Schafer concluded her presentation, Bieber returned to the stage once more to thank the speakers and attendees while bringing the evening to a close.