The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce presented Ken Lauhoff, local businessman and community advocate, with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the organization's annual banquet at the Chillicothe Elks Lodge Thursday evening.
The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce presented Ken Lauhoff, local businessman and community advocate, with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the organization’s annual banquet at the Chillicothe Elks Lodge Thursday evening. Lauhoff, former owner of Lauhoff Jewelry and retired Livingston County commissioner, was described by award presenter Chuck Haney as an individual whose community involvement runs deep. “This individual is the epitome of what small town life is all about,” Haney said. “As a store owner, he always greeted you with a warm smile... he went out of his way to provide excellent customer service.” The Lifetime Achievement award is presented annually to someone who, over their lifetime, has worked toward the betterment of their community and has dedicated his or her life to serving others. “[Lauhoff] has invested years of his time in keeping the Livingston County area growing and prospering by being involved with Hedrick Medical Center, Main Street Chillicothe, the Chillicothe Chamber, Local Emergency Planning Commission, University of Missouri Extension Council, Green Hills Regional Planning Commission and St. Columban’s Catholic Church... just to name a few,” Haney said. He noted that on more than one occasion, Lauhoff has helped bring a community dream to life through his support and fund-raising capability. “The Green Hills Women’s Shelter, Green Hills Golf Course, Head Start School and Silver Moon Plaza projects all have him to thank for their success,” Haney said. “He works tirelessly and without recognition for many of his efforts.” Lauhoff was surprised and humbled by the honor. In accepting the award, he expressed his appreciation and repeatedly told those in attendance that the award given to him is a reflection of the people gathered at the banquet. “It’s great to even be nominated for this award,” Lauhoff said. “To receive it, is unbelieveable.” “The reason I received this award is because of you,” he told those gathered. “We (the people in this community) are why Chillicothe is so great. How proud I am to be from here and how great it is to be a part of this community with each and every one of you. I was presented this award tonight because of you. Each one of you deserve this award just as much as I do and that is why I want to say each one of you receives this award.” The Lifetime Achievement Award was one of several awards presented Thursday evening to applaud the services and achievements of individuals and businesses. Kanna Helton announced Rolfe and Julie McCoy as recipients of the Chamber’s Personal Community Service Award. This award is given to a person who has promoted and worked for the betterment of Chillicothe. In making the presentation, Helton said that individually the McCoys are impressive “but, together they are unstoppable.” “This award has been many years in the making because their involvement in Chillicothe can be seen as a lifelong commitment,” Helton said. “They have driven local impact on several fronts; the medical field, real estate as well as community philanthropies. Whether serving on a board of directors for a local non-profit or leading a steering committee for a big community event, these two are often the driving force.” The McCoys were not present at the banquet, but joined those in attendance via the internet on Skype. They said they are honored to be a part of the Chillicothe community. “Chillicothe has always been progressive,” Rolfe McCoy stated. “We have so much going on for a small town and we are proud to say that wherever we travel, ‘We are from the Home of Sliced Bread.’ We have enjoyed being a part of many projects that promote businesses of our community.” Successful projects are the results of a team effort, Julie McCoy added. “That’s what we love most about Chillicothe,” she said. “Everyone pitches in to help and great things happen.” Michelle Sewell announced Rosina Harter, of the Community Resource Center, as the Chamber Person of the Year. Sewell stated that Harter personifies what it means to commit oneself to the service of others. “It’s difficult to tie this year’s recipient to just one local organization or business,” Sewell said. “You could say that she touches multiple lives on a daily basis through her various roles.” Harter can be found attending Main Street Chillicothe committee meetings or serving as an ambassador for the Chamber. She stays active in her church and is a former board member of the Livingston County Humane Society where she is still involved. She also serves as the social media and public relations coordinator for the Livingston County Food Pantry. Woody’s Automotive Group received the Chamber Business of the Year Award. This award is presented to an outstanding business involved in civic projects that keeps the community prosperous and progressive and one that is an ambassador for the community to promote economic development and a positive quality of life. The award was presented by Ed Douglas. “Creative thinking has manifested itself in a multitude of ways with our recipient business,” Douglas said before revealing this year’s honoree. “Perhaps, it is in their logo and tagline or, maybe, it is the high value they place on women in the workplace; but, I would be remiss if I left out their commitment to our community. Their support is far and wide including our school system, health care facilities, youth, emergency services and yes, the Chamber, as well. This is not to mention the economic impact that they are bringing right here to Chillicothe with sales and getting people here to shop and stay.” Woody’s is a three-generation family business that began in 1947 which has grown in the last 10 years to be ranked in the nation’s top 10 in their industry. Their booming customer base led them to add three additional locations in the St. Joseph and Kansas City regions and expand their local fleet, Douglas said. The business employs more than 80 people and has more than 250 sales per month. Brent Kline, company CEO, accepted the award on behalf the company. “I’m thankful to God to be placed in this community,” Kline stated. “There is such great support in this community in everything that we do.” He thanked the members of his “team” for a successful year and emphasized the meaning of the word T.E.A.M.: Together Each Achieves More. “Together, each achieves more than what we could on our own,” Kline said. “This is proven by this group.” Ambassador Awards Also recognized Thursday evening was Michelle Sewell as the Top Individual Chamber Ambassador. “This award represents her active role in membership recruitment and participation in many Chamber events,” stated outgoing Chamber President Chasity Anderson. “Michelle is present or volunteering at nearly every Chamber function, thereby furthering our mission and creating new connections for her member business affiliate, Investors Community Bank.” “Ambassadors are truly the face of the Chamber,” Anderson stated. “The men and women who take time from their own work days to celebrate the milestones of other community businesses truly understand how important these events are and how the Chamber plays a role in the growth of Chillicothe.” Also honored Thursday was Corporate Captains, led by Juanita Assel, who received the Chamber Ambassador Team of the Year Award. The recipients of the ambassador awards are determined by attendance at and volunteer hours with the Chamber’s events throughout the year. An estimated 250 Chamber members and their guests attended Thursday’s banquet. The program opened with comments made by outgoing President Anderson. She highlighted some of last year’s activities. “2016 was an exciting year for the Chamber,” she said. “We had a lot of growth in a lot of areas.” She thanked those who had a part in supporting the Chamber throughout the year, including the Chamber membership which has grown to 287 business strong. “We have a very supportive, very dedicated and very loyal Chamber membership that has gotten us to this point,” she said. She urged the members to stay active in the coming year. “The more time and effort you put in, the more connected you will be,” she said. As her last act as president, Anderson handed the gavel to Scott Rule, who will serve as the Chamber president for 2017. Rule then presented Anderson with a plaque recognizing her term as Chamber president. Rule is the owner of Community Press. He is originally from north central Iowa and is married to Lisa (Sappington) Rule, a Chillicothe native. The Rules moved to Chillicothe 20 years ago and have two children: Libby and Emma. Rule opened his remarks with an entertaining musical rap narrative as a tribute to the local Chamber and in the spirit of “Hamilton, An American Musical.” Rule previewed the year ahead and various events and activities in which the Chamber will be involved. These include the FFA Breakfast, Great Northwest Day, Piccadilly Gala, Chautauqua, Holiday Parade, and the return of Leadership Chillicothe, an intensive 7-month program. Entertainment of the banquet evening was a lip sync battle with proceeds going toward participants’ chosen charities. Participants and the charities they represented are as follows: Darla Shipley (Livingston County Humane Society), sponsored by Comfort Inn and Suites; Ronni Clark (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), sponsored by The Sliced Bread Market; Ed Douglas with backup from Adam Warren (Main Street Chillicothe), sponsored by Beemer’s; and Daniel Savage (North Missouri Center for Youth and Families (sponsored by Hedrick Medical Center). Eric Sensenich, who was unable to participate Thursday, represented YMCA Partners with Youth and was sponsored by Sensenich Jewelers. Howard Moritz was called to fill Sensenich’s absence. He performed with lib sync backups Jason Bone and Rob Hurtgen. Amy Supple served as the battle’s emcee and Howard “The Ice Man” Moritz was the deejay. Judges were Scott Rule, Danette Rardon and Rusty Black. In the end, the duo of Ed Douglas and Adam Warren walked away with the Lip Sync Trophy. “We heard great remarks about the lip sync battle and plan to bring in back in 2018,” said Crystal Narr, executive director of the Chamber. The total raised through the lip sync battle performers was just shy of $2,000, with Ed Douglas winning $984 for his chosen charity (Main Street Chillicothe). Final results of the raffle, which took place during the evening, had not been tallied as of press time; however, the live auction of the three exclusive items totaled $700. Thursday’s program also included the introduction of board members and officers by outgoing Chamber President Chasity Anderson. They are: Scott Rule (president-elect), Ronni Clark (treasurer), Jennifer Bonham (vice president), Julee Nibarger (past president), and members Roger Barnes, Kristie Cross, Jill Distler, Chuck Erke, Noel Gott, Brent Kline, Darren Lauhoff, Danette Rardon, Cathy Ripley and Matt Trussell. Mayor Chuck Haney serves as an ex-officio member of the board. New board members – Amy Ireland (Grand River Livestock Market), Kanna Helton (BTC Bank) and Daniel Savage (North Missouri Center for Youth and Families) – were introduced, and recognition was given to outgoing board members Danette Rardon and Brent Kline. A drawing for raffle prizes followed the meal. Special thanks were given to The Sliced Bread Market (Cheri Livingston, Tony and Ronni Clark and their staff) which provided the dinner buffet; and to Murphy’s Photography, Mast Productions and Sewell Auction Service. Awards banquet committee members were Chasity Anderson, Ronni Clark, Jill Distler, Kanna Helton, Julee Nibarger, Michelle Sewell and Darla Shipley.