The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce presented Phil Willard with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the organization's annual banquet at the Chillicothe Elks Lodge Thursday evening. Danette Rardon, a former Chamber president who passed away last year was posthumously honored as a recipient of the award.

The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce presented Phil Willard with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the organization’s annual banquet at the Chillicothe Elks Lodge Thursday evening. Danette Rardon, a former Chamber president who passed away last year was posthumously honored as a recipient of the award.

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Willard is a 1969 Chillicothe High School graduate who has served as head coach of the Chillicothe Football Hornets since 1998. Willard’s journey in coaching began while in college at Missouri Valley after he suffered a serious knee injury and became a student assistant coach. From there he spent time at Central Missouri State University, Kearney, Moberly and, in more recent years, his alma mater. He has led the CHS Hornet team to 139 wins and has also coached 37 all-state players, many of them winning multiple all-state honors, plus countless other young men who went on to play college football... “all the while earning the respect of fellow coaches, administrators and officials form across the state,” said award presenter Dr. Roger Barnes, superintendent of Chillicothe R-2 Schools. 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. “The reason for this individual receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award is not solely based on the scoreboard and statistics, but rather his lasting impact on the lives that he has touched and the community that he has impacted,” Barnes stated. Willard was humbled by the honor of receiving the award from a place where he grew up and graduated from high school. “I went away to school and worked in other places for 22 years before returning to Chillicothe in 1991, where I have gotten to work with countless numbers of outstanding students and colleagues,” Willard said. “Chillicothe is a great place to live and bring up a family,” he said. “Our community is progressive and achieving, but most of all: a nurturing town that has helped so many through difficult times.” Darla Shipley announced the Lifetime Achievement Award presented posthumously to Danette Rardon. “Nights like tonight are special because of the people who make it happen and the people in the room,” Shipley said. “Tonight is a little different because in this space and at this event that she never missed, we get to celebrate Danette Rardon, who contributed so much to the Chamber, the community and our surrounding area,” Shipley said. Rardon was a Chamber past president, founding committee member of the annual Piccadilly Gala fundraiser and enjoyed the lip sync battle. “Although her presence is profoundly missed, she poured so much of who she was into elements of the Chamber and Chillicothe that will enhance aspects of all of our lives for years to come,” Shipley said. “It has been said that ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,’” Shipley said. “That was Danette. She led by example and lived a wonderful life. We are grateful that she chose to share it with us.” Rardon’s family members, friends and co-workers were in attendance at the banquet. Bill Young, president of Citizens Bank & Trust, where Rardon was employed until the time of her death, accepted the award on behalf of her family. “The last two months has been very difficult for all of us, her family and the employees at Citizens Bank,” Young said. “She made a difference,” he added. “She changed lives. Everything she did she was passionate for. She was completely all-in. It was great to work with her.” Young asked those in attendance to recognize the things that Rardon was a part of, adding that “there are so many things in our community that Danette was a part of and it wouldn’t have been possible without her.” The Lifetime Achievement Award was one of several awards presented Thursday evening to applaud the services and achievements of individuals and businesses. Ronni Clark announced Scott and Lisa Rule 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, Clark said that the Rules could easily be described as being creative, entertaining, giving, family-focused, involved, God-fearing and gifted. “This year’s award goes to a couple that touches many aspects of our community but it could be said that this dynamic duo has a flare for the dramatic,” Clark said. “Whether it be serving the youth or on praise team at Lifepoint Church, working long hours preparing for a top-notch theatrical production or embodying the spirit of Christmas, this couple goes above and beyond for everything they are a part of.” “As a business owner and educator, you might imagine that their schedules are overly full yet they always find time to give back to their community,” Clark continued. “Specifically, this past year when it seemed the odds were against them, they were still as present as ever, adapting to their new normal.” Kanna Helton announced Kendra Nolte, of Edward Jones, as the Chamber Person of the Year. Helton stated that Nolte is energetic, dedicated, hard-working and helpful. “She is someone who truly knows that 80 percent of success is just being present,” Helton said. “We are grateful to her for contributing so much to the Chamber and we look forward to the great things she will do in the future for the Chamber and for Chillicothe.” Green Hills Communications 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 Chasity Anderson. “For almost 70 years, this year’s recipient has been going above and beyond building an advanced communications infrastructure that allows north central Missouri residents and businesses access to the same technologies found in our nation’s largest cities,” Anderson stated of Green Hills Communications. “Their forward-thinking is creating new economic opportunities and bringing about the possibility of new jobs for our area.” Anderson said that the business is supportive of Chamber initiatives and its employees are involved with Chamber activities. “This valuable Chamber member company is keeping Livingston County on the cutting edge while closing the digital divide in north Central Missouri,” Anderson added. The award was accepted by David Adams, Chuck Erke, Angela Shaffer and Sherryl Garcia. Ambassador Awards Also recognized Thursday evening was David Sieberling as the Top Individual Chamber Ambassador. “This award represents his active role in membership recruitment and participation in many Chamber events,” stated outgoing Chamber President Scott Rule. “David is present or volunteering at nearly every Chamber function, thereby furthering our mission and creating new connections for her member business affiliate, Robertson Insurance Services.” “Ambassadors are truly the face of the Chamber,” Rule noted. “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 Career Kickstarters, led by David Sieberling, which 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 265 Chamber members and their guests attended Thursday’s banquet. The program opened with comments made by outgoing President Rule. He highlighted some of last year’s activities. As his last act as president, Rule handed the gavel to Ronni Clark, who will serve as the Chamber president for 2018. 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: Abby Smith (Backpack Buddies), sponsored by BTC Bank; Eric Sensenich (YMCA Partners with Youth), sponsored by Sensenich Jeweler; Amy Dickerson and Monica Holmer (North Missouri Center for Youth and Families), sponsored by Dickerson Tool & Engineering; Rolfe McCoy, featuring the McCoy Family (All Abilities Park Playground Equipment), sponsored by McCoy, Samples, Mattingly Dental; Scott and Lisa Rule (Hedrick Nurse Navigator Program), sponsored by Hedrick Medical Center; Michael and Natalie Leamer (FEC Area Youth Benefit Fund), sponsored by Farmers’ Electric Cooperative). Amy Supple served as the battle’s emcee and Adam Mast was the deejay. Judges were Rusty Black, Ed Douglas and Ronni Clark. In the end, the duo of Michael and Natalie Leamer walked away with the Lip Sync Trophy. Crystal Narr, executive director of the Chamber, announced that the total amount raised through the lip sync battle performers was $6,200. Thursday’s program also included the introduction of board members and officers by outgoing Chamber President Scott Rule. They are: Ronni Clark (president-elect), Chuck Erke (treasurer), Kristie Cross (vice president), Chasity Anderson (past president), and members Roger Barnes, Jill Distler, Noel Gott, Darren Lauhoff, Cathy Ripley, Matt Trussell, Amy Ireland and Kanna Helton. Mayor Chuck Haney serves as an ex-officio member of the board. New board members – Tammy Graves (The Post), Steven Schieber (Hedrick Medical Center), Carrie Miller (Lifepoint Church), Lauren Horsman (Chapman, Cowherd Law) – were introduced, and recognition was given to outgoing board members Noel Gott, Jennifer Bonham, Julee Nibarger and Cathy Ripley. A drawing for raffle prizes followed the meal. The dinner buffet was prepared by The Sliced Bread Market (Amy Weese, Tony and Ronni Clark, and their staff). Special thanks were given to Murphy Photography, Mast Productions and The Sliced Bread Market. Awards banquet committee members were Ronni Clark, Chasity Anderson, Tammy Graves, Kanna Helton and Darla Shipley.