The Hillsboro Moose Lodge was full Thursday night, Sept. 27, for the annual Business and Industry Awards Banquet hosted by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce.
The theme for this year's dinner was "Success Among Us" with the Chamber honoring CNB Bank & Trust and Style Studio for Makeover Awards, Montgomery County PAWS Care and Stamp Out Cancer for Achievement Awards, Mike Ryan for Chamber Member of the Year, and Hillsboro Area Hospital for Business of the Year.
Chamber Executive Lesley Pollard opened the evening welcoming everyone and making special note of the current renovations going on around town including the new National Bank project, and both the Red Rooster and Chances building being renovated by new owners.
Chamber President Terri Miller then talked about the opportunities both in joining the chamber and through sponsoring an upcoming chamber event.
Richard Small gave the evening's invocation asking for blessings on the community and that all local businesses continue to thrive. The meal for the night was catered by Milanos Catering.
Brandi Lentz of Montgomery County Realty presented the first makeover award of the night to CNB Bank & Trust. Lentz said that over the years, the building was home to several businesses before Carlinville National Bank (CNB) moved in in December 1997.
In July 2011, CNB merged all 12 of their locations to form CNB Bank & Trust. During their renovation in Hillsboro, the bank used local businesses such as Vogel's, Chamber's Floor Covering and Tina Furness to remodel their office. Karen Draper accepted the award giving a quick thank you on behalf of the bank.
Angie Eickhoff of White & Associates presented the second makeover award to Candi Luck and Style Studio which first opened in the Butler Laundry building before moving to their current location on Main Street across from Shell. Eickhoff said that Luck and her staff have made many improvements over the years including adding a handicap ramp and making the building more energy efficient.
Luck accepted the award adding that of all the improvements they have made, bringing the original brick front back to the building is the one that she has enjoyed the most, and cannot wait to do the same with the north and south walls of the building.
Kim Noyes was the next presenter giving the first achievement award to Montgomery County PAWS Care. Noyes said PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) Care got its start 10 years ago when Hillsboro resident Morgan Meade attended a city council meeting about building a no-kill animal shelter when she was worried about the euthanasia rate of animals in the community.
Now, not only does PAWS help find homes for animals, it also provides medical care, rescues animals, and helps provide food for animals whose owners cannot afford the cost.
In accepting the award, PAWS Care President Jennifer Walker said the biggest achievement of PAWS is bringing the euthanasia rate from 95 percent down to approximately three percent. Walker gave special recognition to all the volunteers who have helped make PAWS Care what it is today.
The second achievement award went to Zach Wygal and Stamp Out Cancer, and was presented by Richard Small of the Montgomery County Cancer Association (MCCA).
Small said that to date, the MCCA has raised approximately $285,000 which has been used for direct patient care for some 237 individuals. He said the MCCA has also provided $75,000 in scholarships to county high school students.
"Zach came to one of our meetings with this idea and he really hit a homerun with it," said Small. "In their first year in 2010, the group raised $10,000 and that total jumped to $32,000."
Wygal said the idea was born as a tribute to his father, Ron "Stamps" Wygal, who passed away in 2006 from a brain tumor. He added that his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple years after his father's tumor was discovered.
"There was a day when I sat with my father after one of his brain surgeries at Barnes Jewish Hospital, then went over to the Siteman Center at the other side of the hospital to sit with my mom during chemotherapy," said Wygal. "It was a lot to take in."
Wygal is now a member of the MCCA board and showed his passion for fighting cancer in saying that there is a chance to "change the direction of the community forever. Not just for our friends and relatives, but for our children and beyond. "We have the chance to make a lasting impact."
The third annual Stamp Out Cancer benefit has been slated for Jan. 26, 2013, and will feature another installment of Dancing With The Stars and St. Louis band Dr. Zhivegas.
Gene White next introduced Mike Ryan as chamber member of the year.
White said Ryan came to Hillsboro with his wife, Barb, in 1986 and started working at then Montgomery County National Bank under Bob Smith. He graduated with his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois before continuing his education at Millikin University where he and Barb first met. Now 26 years after his arrival in town, Ryan still works three days a week after semi-retiring in 2007. In his free-time, Ryan works as the treasurer for the chamber and the Knights of Columbus.
Ryan accepted the award joking that the requirements for the honor were "showing up for lots of newspaper photos and having a short acceptance speech."
He also shared several memories of his time on the chamber over the years including when the chamber was once on the verge of financial collapse and they brought in the circus as a last ditch fundraising effort.
"The circus was a huge hit and the chamber was literally saved by a bunch of clowns."
In closing, Ryan said that he is impressed with the continued growth of the chamber which now stands at 107 members, and hopes that it can continue to meet its goal of improving the business atmosphere and quality of life for Hillsboro and the surrounding communities.
Harry Hutchison of National Bank presented the final award of the evening to Hillsboro Area Hospital, the business of the year for 2012.
Hutchison said he was drawn to the words of Judge Amos Miller's 1916 hospital dedication speech which said the purpose of the hospital was "relieving pain and restoring health and vigor." The accomplishments of the small town hospital are extraordinary over the past 96 years, said Hutchison, adding that Miller's words are as true today as they were nearly a century ago.
HAH CEO Rex Brown and Hospital Board President Tom Gooding accepted the award, both thanking the chamber and all in attendance for the recognition.
"The hospital will continue to partner with our community to be recognized as a leader of affordable and high quality health and wellness," said Brown.
Brown spoke about how HAH has outperformed and competes with hundreds of other reporting hospitals across the United States adding that the success of the hospital is only possible because of the people within the building.
Gooding echoed Brown's statements about all the employees and volunteers who keep the hospital performing at its best. Gooding, who is retiring as board president after this year, urged anyone with time to volunteer their time with the organization saying it was fun and rewarding to help make an impact on HAH and the community during his nine years of service.
Mayor John Downs helped close the evening complimenting the hard work and dedication of the chamber, its members and all other businesses who help the Hillsboro area be what it is.
"Stop and think how fortunate we are," said Mayor Downs. "I believe in this city. I have been here since 1951 and I will continue to do all that I can to help it and the people. If we work together, there's no limit to what we can get done."
Miller closed the evening again stating a point that was made several times during the night that a community's progress is not just measured in numbers and money, but also in people and helping those in need.
"We all play an important role in the future of the community," Miller said about the chamber. "Every day in every way, we are working to make the world a better place."
Miller said the local revolution cannot be done alone, adding that towns like Hillsboro can be brought back to their former greatness by everyone thinking first about who around them can supply what they need before jumping on the interstate or internet.