Chamber remains dynamic part of community life
Through the years, the annual banquet of the McCook Area Chamber of Commerce has grown into one of the community's highlight events, with top awards, entertainment and auction activity producing both dramatic announcements and much-needed funds for the chamber.
The 2005 celebration -- called "Prairie Gold" -- upheld the tradition in elegant fashion. The McCook Memorial Auditorium was beautifully decorated, with streamers spiraling downward from the ceiling and Roman style decor enhancing the auditorium floor.
The ambience added to the events which unfolded.
Most special were the awards. In recognition of their contributions to the community, the chamber paid special tribute to Norm Timmerman of Timmerman & Sons Feedlot, recipient of the Ag Builder Award; Mark Graff, president of McCook National Bank, winner of the Community Service Award; Jerome Knoll, an investor in Westview Plaza and Wagner Ford-Mercury-Toyota, the choice for the Community Builders Award; and Dr. Don Blank, who completed 18 years of service as a university regent, winner of the McCook Area Public Servant of the Year Award.
In addition, special awards were presented to Jane Stull, McCook Cordial of the Year; Rebecca Vosburg, for devoted service to the Red Willow Convention & Visitors Committee; Colleen Grant, Community Volunteer Award; and Craig Olsen, the Chamber Volunteer of the Year.
The Chamber crowd also was treated to outstanding entertainment, as the cast of "Fiddler on the Roof" presented the musical's opening number, "Tradition!" It was the first public appearance by the cast, which will bring "Fiddler" to the McCook stage in mid-March.
After a tasty meal -- featuring prime rib for the main course and pie for dessert -- the crowd heard reports from the Chamber's 2005 and 2004 presidents: Bob Bonge and Craig Olsen. Dave Stout, master of ceremonies, and Pam Harsh, the Chamber's new executive director, also took turns at the podium.
Then came the action-packed finale: the auction. With auctioneer Johnny Walker selling packages in rapid-fire order, the auction produced more than $6,000. When combined with the silent auction, that produced more than $7,700 in funds for the chamber.
The Chamber of Commerce has been part of the McCook community for 80 years. It's good to see -- after all that time -- that the organization is still such a dynamic part of community life.