By TESA GLASS email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce members gathered Friday night to take a look at the past year and to celebrate the future of the community.
This was the first annual event for Executive Director Olivia Majerchin, who joined the Chamber in October.
“It has been an honor to serve,” Majerchin said. “We have had a lot of exciting things this year and we have been very busy. ... I believe we have the best membership and each and every member is an asset to the community.”
Among the many people recognized were those who received the Citizen of the Year, Small Business Person of the Year, Young Professional of the Year and President awards.
The 2014 Citizen of the Year is Larry Smith, who has devoted time, effort and generosity to organizations throughout the county. He was instrumental in the renovation of the Lifeboat Alliance Family Shelter. He has also made a big impact as a CASA advocate. He has been honored as a Senior Saint in the community, and served on the board of Habitat for Humanity and Jefferson County Comprehensive Services.
“Larry is the most deserving person I can think of to receive this award,” stated Jenny O’Daniel, executive director of Lifeboat Alliance. “He is the most sincere and hardest working person I have come into contact since Lifeboat Alliance came to fruition.”
The Small Business Person Award was presented to a couple — Marshall and Sandi Newell, who own and operate Newell Furniture and The General Store in Woodlawn.
“Sandi and Marshall continuously update product and renovate their business to stay current,” information from the Chamber states. “They have significantly expanded over the years, even adding four additional buildings. ... They pride themselves on running a business with integrity, respect and honesty.”
Matt Flanigan was chosen for the Young Professional of the Year award. He is an attorney for Black, Hedin, Ballard, McDonald PC, working with the firm for five years. He has developed a reputation for being dedicated to his field and his community, serving on the boards for CASA, United Way, Mt. Vernon Township High School, the Jefferson County Bar Association, the Baptist Children’s Home, Chamber of Commerce, Rend Lake College Foundation and more. He is a founding member of I Love Orphans, a non-profit organization that built and maintains an orphanage in Uganda.
President’s Award recipient Bill Beck accepted the honor with a video message.
Beck, the owner and CEO of Beck Bus Transportation Corp. for 37 years, served on many boards and councils — locally, state-wide and national.
“We chose to honor Bill for his longstanding support of the business community and the city of Mt. Vernon,” stated Kay Zibby-Damron, Vice President of the Past President’s Council. “He is actively involved with many local and state groups — putting in a tremendous amount of time making sure to represent each entity properly. He is also a major supporter of the arts and of education in Mt. Vernon. He encompasses what we look for when choosing the winner of this award.”