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Chamber holds online awards ceremony to recognize local businesses, individuals

Chamber holds online awards ceremony to recognize local businesses, individuals


In its first ever online ceremony, the Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce recognized local businesses and community members with the 2020 Chamber Member Awards.

“We’re excited to celebrate some great business that’s happening in the Beatrice area,” Angie Bruna, executive director for the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce, said in a Facebook live stream Friday afternoon. “It’s a special year, I guess you could say, and we still have a lot of great things happening, so it’s important that we take time to celebrate those things.”

Heath Stewart, chairman of the Chamber board, announced the winners of each category. He said the nominees are all amazing men and women working daily to better the Beatrice community.

“You can also see that they’re all deserving of the awards, which makes it difficult to choose a winner,” Stewart said.

Nominees for the business person of the year were Bryon Belding of Stone Hollow Brewing Company, Erin Chadwick of NGage, Trevor Chadwick of Brown’s Shoe Fit Company, Gina Heckey of the Beatrice Community Hospital Foundation, Tasha Hesman of Beatrice Community Hospital, and Erich Tiemann of R.L. Tiemann Construction, with the award going to Brian Daake of the City of Beatrice.

Bruna said Daake has worked at Beatrice Fire and Rescue for 30 years, currently serving as the fire and Emergency Medical Services chief. She said Daake is also a part-time instructor for the Nebraska State Fire Marshall’s training division, the leader for the Beatrice Incident Command Team monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and Scout Master for the Boy Scouts Troop 221.

“Under his leadership, Beatrice Fire and Rescue protects approximately 13,000 citizens within the city limits of Beatrice, and approximately eight miles in area,” Bruna said. “The department also helps protect an additional 12,000 citizens in the Beatrice Rural Fire district, which is approximately 200 miles. The department is also involved in a mutual aid agreement with Gage, Jefferson and Saline counties…Thank you for being such an active member of our community, and investing in its future. Very proud to have you on our team.”

Nominees for the young professional of the year were Kenzie Brueggemann of Neapco, Amanda Kuhlman of the City of Beatrice, Dr. Steven Paulmeyer of Beatrice Community Hospital and Philip Voigt of Beatrice Public Schools, with the award going to Amber Lovitt of Southeast Nebraska Court-Appointed Special Advocates.

Bruna said Lovitt became the Southeast Nebraska CASA program director in July of 2019, and that there was over a page of examples of her aiding the community. She said Lovitt is also vice president for the Beatrice Kiwanis club, serves on the Leadership Beatrice Advisory Committee, a Beatrice Teammates mentor, and a volunteer with the Southeast Nebraska YMCA Capital Campaign.

“Since she has started, she has served 34 children, working closely with Nebraska DHHS, Beatrice Public Schools and Beatrice Community Hospital to help find resources for those children… Thank you for being a mover and a shaker in our community,” Bruna said.

Nominees for best new image were Anytime Fitness, Brown’s Shoe Fit Company, Jon Deines’ Edward Jones, Exmark Manufacturing, The Black Crow’s outdoor crow’s garden, and Zoellner Ford-Lincoln of Beatrice, with the award going to the Dairy Queen on East Court Street.

Bruna explained that Dairy Queen has recently made improvements to the inside of its building, as well as relocated a nearby house in order to expand the drive-thru and parking lot area.

“East Court Dairy Queen Grill and Chill has been serving tasty treats to the Beatrice community for over 70 years, and has been a member of the Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce for 35 years…In addition to these changes, the East Court Dairy Queen Grill and Chill supports the community through various donations, and has an active online and social media presence,” Bruna said. “Thank you, East Court Dairy Queen, for choosing to invest in the future of our Beatrice community, and congratulations.”

“It’s always great for our local economy, when our business owners take pride in their community and choose to reinvest in their properties, so thank you to each one of these businesses,” Stewart noted.

Nominees for outstanding new business of the year were Clean Slate Soap, Dean’s Gourmet Kettle Corn, Family Bowl and Social, and Sifted Sweets, with the award going to Zoellner Ford-Lincoln of Beatrice.

Bruna said Jason and Teresa Zoellner purchased the Beatrice Ford-Lincoln dealership in May of 2020 from the Hernandez family, and have since moved to the area and have several family members and over 45 other individuals working at the dealership.

“They treat the needs of each individual customer with paramount concern, and enjoy the challenge of meeting and exceeding their customers’ high expectations in both sales and service…They support a variety of local, non-profit organizations, have an engaged staff, and excel at promoting business in Gage County,” Bruna said.

The customer service excellence award nominees were Beatrice Movies, Husker Rehab, Southwick Chiropractic, and Taco John’s, with the award going to Community Players.

Bruna said that Community Players is a unique experience for Beatrice residents, as well as a tourist attraction for the surrounding area. She noted the impact of COVID-19 on the arts, and said that Community Players has be innovative by providing digital performances and other events.

“In addition, their staff have been helpful in teaching other area non-profits how to benefit from the Big Give events, and providing non-profit consulting to boards, and helping them form their strategic plans. …Thank you for your commitment to excellence in customer service,” Bruna said.

Non-profit of the year nominees were the Beatrice Educational Foundation, the Coffin Family Foundation, Eagles Aerie #351 and Mosaic in Beatrice, with the award going to the Blue River Adult and Teen Challenge

Bruna said that the local women’s center opened in 2017, but that the Adult and Teen Challenge has been a nation-wide, faith-based non-profit addiction recovery center for over 60 years. She noted that the center helps make happy moms, which in turn helps create healthy kids, healthy schools, healthy consumers and healthy communities.

“It’s the largest and longest continuously operating group of addiction recovery centers in the world, with over 250 centers in the U.S., and over 1,250 centers worldwide,” Bruna said. “Using proven solutions for life-controlling issues and addiction, Adult and Teen Challenge helps women become emotionally healthy, physically well and spiritually alive. As residents of Adult and Teen Challenge Beatrice Women’s Center, the women are involved in group classes, individual studying, personal mentoring, work ethic training, and serving in the community.”

“It’s good to be a part of a community with so many organizations dedicated to serving our population and improving the lives of others through their endeavors,” Stewart said.

Last but not least, nominees for business of the year were Beatrice Community Hospital, Exmark Manufacturing, and Filley Bar and Grill, with the award going to Landmark Snacks.

Bruna said Landmark Snacks was opened by Chad and Courtney Lottman in 2016, producing products for multiple meat snack brands. She said the business surpassed its three-year growth span in a matter of months, and that this spring they expanded with a 27,000 square foot warehouse.

“The addition will include dry storage, a new freezer and cooler, and two new docks to assist with better separation of raw and finished product,” Bruna said. “The expansion is nearly twice as large as currently needed, but is a step that will accommodate continued growth of the company without space limitations in the immediate future.”

Bruna and Stewart ended the live stream congratulating all the winners. Bruna said the winners will be contacted to receive their certificates and awards, and that the Chamber hopes to return to an in-person ceremony next year.


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