It’s not given out every year, but when it is, it’s for a good reason. The Homer Poss Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the most prestigious and rare accolades the Highland Chamber of Commerce (COC) gives to citizens in the community.
This year, the Homer Poss Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Nancy Gramlich, who earned it through serving the Highland community for 25 years.
“Nancy is a great asset to the Highland Community,” said COC Treasurer Howard Held. “She has helped countless people and takes great pride when she can turn a frown upside down. Nancy is selfless, caring, generous, hard-working, passionate, a leader, and a friend.”
Gramlich established the annual Lions Club youth girls basketball tournament, she started Movies in the Park, led the Summer Playground Program, established the Young at Heart activities, and started the Father/Son Adventure Days to compliment the Daddy/Daughter dances.
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Surrounded by family and friends, and with tears in her eyes, Gramlich could barely speak as she accepted the award. “Thank you all so much,” she said. The Homer Poss Lifetime Achievement Award was first awarded in 2003.
“Her daughters told me that she has done a great job raising four pain-in-the-butt girls who love her more than they can put into words,” Held said. “She is extremely devoted to her family. Never missing a birthday and always making sure that her kids get at least a dozen Christmas gifts every year.”
Bill Pierce Chamber Member of the Year
Each year, the Bill Pierce Chamber Member of the Year award is given to a COC member who exhibits extraordinary service to the organization, and who uses their business skills for the betterment of the entire community.
“This year’s recipient is no stranger to hard work and dedication. Community involvement and commitment to ‘helping to get the job done’ are what they are all about,” said Judy Neier, a member of the Board of Directors for the COC. “There is probably never a time that they ask you to do something that they would not do themselves. A true leader in every sense of the word with a ‘can do, will do’ attitude.”
This year’s award was given to Tricia Buehne, the current Chamber of Commerce President.
“Tricia truly believes in the Chamber, its benefits, and how being a member can create a positive impact on the businesses that it serves and the community,” Neier said. “She has a good memory and a good heart. If you have ever worked with her on one of her projects, committees, or boards, then you already know that.”
Buehne is the 22nd recipient of the Bill Pierce Chamber Member of the Year Award. The first award was given in 1994 to Mary Haberer.
“It’s such an honor to receive this award,” Buehne said. “I really care about the Chamber and the whole community.”
Buehne says receiving this award in recognition of her work is a huge compliment. She says she has big aspirations for the Chamber of Commerce for the next year.
“I want this to be the best year ever. I want us to get to know the businesses in town, not just on a professional level, but on a personal level too. Let’s make the next 12 months great.”
Business Person of the Year
This award is reserved for local Highland business owners who have shown outstanding performance and success in their industry. To qualify, they must hold a leadership position in their company, actively participate in service organizations and govern boards and other civic committees.
“Tonight’s recipient is definitely a giver and a doer among the community. He’s always willing to step up when asked to serve or donate his time or talents,” said Tricia Buehne. “He was born and raised in Highland, and has planted his roots, helping grow a successful business.”
The award was given to Jim Gutzler, who took over the family business at Tru-Buy.
“Jim joined the family business and it still remains a family business today as many of the family remain in or have joined this successful hometown supermarket,” Buehne said.
But it’s not just his business accomplishments he’s known for. Gutzler was the past president and a current member of the Highland Optimist Club, past president of the Highland Sportsmen’s Club, a member of the Knights of Columbus 4th degree, and a charter member of the Men’s Auxiliary VFW.
“Highland is a great, it’s amazing,” Gutzler said. “I’m not sure why anyone would ever want to leave. I appreciate all the support I’ve been given. This city is just amazing.”
Buehne says Gutzler is the epitome of what the Business Person of the Year Award is all about.
“His work ethic, community involvement, and overall caring for his community make this town a better place to live and do business,” she said. “Highland is a better place because of Jim.”
Bob Hardy Citizen of the Year
The Bob Hardy Citizen of the Year award is given each year to the citizen who has supported and enhanced the image and civic progress of Highland. They contribute personal time, financial support and gives a large effort to the community and civic events, leading to a higher standard of living in the Highland area.
“Our Bob Hardy Citizen is not only a prominent business leader in our community, but they involve themselves in many ways, including active participation in the Rotary, Optimists, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and the Madison County Fair,” said Rob Bowman.
The award was given to Wayne Steiner for his continued service to the Highland area, local businesses and personal investments in the community.
“I do this for the people who come after me. I want to leave a legacy,” Steiner said. “We don’t live in the past or the future. We live right here right now, and that’s pretty cool.”
Presentation of the President’s Gavel
Rob Bowman was also awarded the President’s Gavel for his continued service to the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Highland.