Community members recognized for volunteer spirit
Chamber/GIC/DAD honor individuals.
Community members at the annual Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce/ Gothenburg Improvement Company annual banquet Friday night rode with the best.
The “best” were those honored for their contributions to Gothenburg in 2009.
“Ride With the Best” was the theme of the annual event at The Parlor restaurant.
Pony Express Rider awards
Receiving Pony Express Rider awards were the Gothenburg Honor Guard, the Gardennaires and Matt Weiss.
The award is given to individuals or groups who go above or beyond the call of duty or who contribute to the economic stability of the community.
Cliff Geiken organized the guard 65 years ago in honor of fallen comrades in World War II in which he served.
The local guard provide funeral honors for fallen comrades and presents the American flag at parades and other events.
In addition to Geiken, members recognized included Ed Claflin, Jack Soller, Daryl Keiser, Bob Theasmeyer, commander Roger Wahlgren and Loren Koch.
Wahlgren noted that while Geiken was in the guard, he served at an estimated 1,000 funerals.
The Gothenburg Gardennaires, organized in 1966, were honored for their beautification projects throughout the city including the planting of flowers at Lake Helen, cleaning and the “Ugly Corner” at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Highway 30.
Group members have also planted 1,000 daffodils throughout the city.
Matt Weiss, a board member of the Gothenburg Community Playhouse, was recognized for his efforts in improving the Sun Theatre through such things as the purchase and installation of a new sound system, improvements to the concession stand, the sponsoring of special events like an Elvis impersonator and the high school speech team’s Comedy Night and the start of the Theatre of Terror this past year which members plan to do each Halloween season.
Recognized for their commitment to economic development of the city were Larry and Craig Franzen of Franzen Inc., Jim and Penny Dodds of Hometown Furniture Plus, Chad and Miriam Sander of Sander Furniture & Gifts, Terry Jessen and Diana Unterseher of Comfort Suites Hotel and Greg and Kathi Viergutz of The Times newspaper.
GIC president Mike Bacon pointed out that the Franzens completed a new building for their business while the Dodds took over the former Hometown Variety building.
The Sander family expanded their business and relocated to where Orscheln Farm and Home was until Orscheln moved to a new building in the Fourth Street Industrial tract.
Their efforts are helping to keep downtown viable, he said.
Bacon said Jessen and Unterseher invested $4 million-plus into the community with the construction of their new hotel in southwest Gothenburg.
The soul and tone of a community is viewed by the rest of the world through the eyes of the newspaper, he said.
“Kathi and Greg have run one of the best papers in Nebraska,” Bacon said, noting that The Times has stood tall during controversial times in the community such as a hospital recall election.
Monsanto, which built a $6 million learning and water utilization center south of the city, was honored for its investment in Gothenburg and Dawson County.
Dawson Area Development director Jen Wolf said the learning center, which opened last summer, has received many accolades from people throughout the world that have toured the facility and its plot demonstrations.
Mary Gohl, coordinator for the Advocating for Business Labor Education (ABLE) program, presented an ABLE leadership award to Gothenburg Memorial Hospital for its support of ABLE’s programs and activities particularly during the business and industry tour when hospital staff offered interactive activities.
Bacon, as GIC president, reviewed the successes of the organization in 2009 including the recruitment of the Comfort Suites Hotel.
The GIC has had three requests for proposals from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and a site visit by a consultant who commented on the organization’s level of effort.
Bacon said the GIC could announce next month the recruitment of another business to town.
Gothenburg is growing population wise and through economic development, he said, thanks in part to the GIC and their efforts.
Outgoing Chamber president Lorri Weiss said the city has seen exciting and sad changes the past year.
“Businesses have shut their doors while others are opening up,” Weiss said.
She noted the positive things happening in the community such as business expansion, an outstanding school system, beautiful parks, tourist attractions like the Pony Express Station and the Sun Theatre’s Theatre of Terror in addition to Chamber events.
Ruthie Franzen, the 2010 president, repeated five reasons to volunteer she borrowed from a Top Ten list from late-night talk-show host David Letterman.
She also listed upcoming events and celebrations in the community including Gothenburg’s 125th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express
“We know the importance of volunteerism so 2010 should be a great year,” she said, noting that amateurs built Noah’s Ark and professionals built the Titanic.
Twenty-two Chamber of Commerce ambassadors were recognized as members of the president’s club after accumulating 200 or more points in 2009 for representing the chamber and helping with various activities in Gothenburg and surrounding communities.
Honorees and their point totals were: Joyce Kolbo, 380; Donna McConnell and Verlin Janssen, 310; Steve Peterson and Michelle Hecox, 305; Charolett Janssen, 295; Ruthie Franzen, 285; Dan Tinlin, 260; Anne Franzen and Melissa Buss, 255; Lynn Peterson, 245; Bret Tiller and Lori Hoesel, 235; Brent Block, 230; Jared Slagle, Linda Bowman and Taci Bartlett, 205; Tim Strauser and Shirley Lake, 210; Aaron Coleman, Randy Evans and Kathi Viergutz, 200.
At the end of the banquet, a multi-media presentation of 2009 Chamber/GIC highlights was presented.
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