The Highland Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of its annual awards during the Business After Hours at Voegele Studios on March 15.
Traditionally, the award winners are kept a secret until the awards ceremony. However, this year, it was decided to announce them beforehand.
“After extensive discussion, we decided to announce the award winners early so the honorees can be surrounded by their friends and family during the award ceremony,” said Nancie Zobrist, executive director of the Highland Chamber of Commerce.
Citizen of the Year Award
The Bob Hardy Citizen of the Year Award will be presented to Kevin Hemann.
The award is presented to someone who has supported and enhanced the image and civic progress of Highland. The person has contributed substantial time, financial support, and/or effort to the community and civic events, thereby leading to a higher standard of living in the Highland area.
Hemann is senior vice president of sale at Highland Machine and has been involved in many civic organization in Highland, including the Optimist Club, Knights of Columbus, St. Paul Church, Highland Chamber of Commerce, St. Jospeh's Hospital Advisory Board, and Highland Area Community Foundation.
Business Person of the Year
The Business Person of the Year Award is presented to a local business person who has shown outstanding performance and success in his/her industry and a “beyond the call of duty” dedication to Highland. In addition to holding a leadership role in his/her company, the honoree has actively participated in service organizations, governing boards, and other civic committees, promoting growth and development for all Highland Businesses.
This year’s winner will be Ron Hunsche, owner of Ron Hunsche Excavating.
Chamber Member of the Year
The Bill Pierce Chamber Member of the Year will be awarded to Maura Donnelly.
The award is presented to a member of the Highland Chamber of Commerce who has exhibited extraordinary service to the organization, and who has made use of her business skills for the betterment of the entire community. This person has held chamber leadership positions; being a board member, active volunteer and has shown initiative and creativity in pursuing the goals of her business profession.
Donnelly is CFO at Terra Properties and is also a member of the chamber board.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Homer Poss Lifetime Achievement Award is only awarded when the selection committee feels there is a need to honor a special Highland contributor. This award is presented to an individual who has made a significant positive impact on the Highland community through their past achievements over a long period of time and who has enhanced the quality of life for Highland area residents.
Ralph Korte, founder of The Korte Company, will be receiving this award at the combined awards and fundraiser dinner.
Annual Awards Dinner
The Annual Awards Dinner is usually hosted in June. However, this year, the chamber announced that it would be combining the Annual Awards Dinner with its Annual Fundraiser. The combined event will be held on April 28 as a kick off to National Small Business Week.
“Once we decided to combine the two events, our next move was to set a date. We decided on the last Saturday in April, because National Small Business Week begins on the following Monday. Our committee thought, 'What a better way to kick off Small Business Week than to honor those business people who make Highland an amazing place to be?'” said Zobrist. “This is a celebration of the award winners, and we plan on making it just that — a fun evening honoring those who choose to invest in our community”.
Dinner is catered by Trenton House, and after the awards ceremony, the popular local band Black Top Boulevard will be providing entertainment for the rest of the evening. There will also be a silent auction during the evenings event.
“Everyone is invited to attend, the more the merrier!” commented Zobrist.
Tickets can be purchased at the Chamber Office or by visiting the Chamber’s website at highlandillinois.com.