New officers were announced during the annual banquet. Barbie Applegarth of Nebraska Total Office will serve as President of the Board of Directors for 2020 with Christina Trout as Vice President and LeAnn Placek as Treasurer.

Mikayla Randolph, Tim Shelmadine, and LeAnn Placek were all elected to the Board of Directors for first term of three years. Christina Trout was elected for a second term of three years.

Applegarth started off the awards portion of the program.

“During my term as President I just want to challenge each one of you to encourage yourself and your employees to shop local,” Applegarth said. “Anytime you need to buy anything think if you can get that in Alliance, and be proud of our community.”

She then recognized Aaron Wade for his eight years of service on the Board of Directors as he was stepping away from the board.

“Aaron is pretty quiet but when he speaks he really has something powerful to say,” she said.

Applegarth then thanked Chamber Executive Director Susan Unzicker for all of her hard work before handing the microphone over to her.  

The 2019 Alliance Chamber of Commerce Awards were then announced.

Ambassador of the Year went to Sean Ridgeway. Sean is the Officer, Commercial and Agribusiness Banking at the Alliance Market of First National Bank of Omaha.

The Lifetime Service Award was presented to Leah King. Leah has volunteered with RSVP for nearly 20 years and logged more than 2,300 volunteer hours.

“She is one busy lady,” said Unzicker. “You can find Leah playing basketball with ARC after school kids, and yes she actually plays basketball with them, delivering meals on wheels, participating in blood drives, commodities, Community Table, Rotary Club and at the Senior Center where she is an active board member. She is the kind of spirit and character that makes Alliance a great place to call home.”

Farmer/Rancher of the Year was presented to Albert Benzel and Sons and accepted by Trent, Steve and Carl Benzel.

“After the year we’ve had this is a real honor,” said Steve. “It’s nice to have a pat on the back once in a while.”

Small Business of the Year was awarded to H & H Sanitation.

Large Business of the Year was awarded to Parker-Hannifin.

WNCC Power Line Program Students were given the award for Community Investment.

“This group of gentleman don’t just attend classes, they have become a part of our community and truly help us build the best hometown in America,” said Director Mara Anderson. “The job of a powerline technician is different almost every day. From the on call demands of the powerline industry in the worst of weather conditions to actively participating in our communities activities, these gentlemen know what it means to call Alliance, Nebraska home.”

Newly appointed Western Nebraska Community College President Dr. Carmen Simone accepted the award along with a few powerline students.

“I am so proud to of this group of gentlemen,” Simone said. “To hear how engaged they are in the community is heartwarming for me.”

Panhandle Blocks-Quilts of Valor received the 2019 Award for Community Compassion.

“Words cannot fully express the gratitude we all have for the service, sacrifice, and valor of our service members and veterans,” said Director Olivia Hasenauer.  “A local group of 45 volunteers makes it their mission to wrap our local service members and veterans in the comforting and healing power of quilts as an expression of gratitude and appreciation. The Panhandle Blocks-Quilts of Valor is the only group in western Nebraska and is one of 21 Nebraska groups dedicated to this cause. This group receives nominations of service members then sets to work sourcing supplies through donations, memorials, grants, and from their own supplies to cut, stitch, press, and quilt, beautifully handmade Quilts of Valor.”

Panhandle Blocks have celebrated over 100 veterans in Alliance, Hemingford, and the surrounding communities.

Unzicker closed the meeting with her Directors Report and the 2019 Year in Review.

“Last year several businesses stepped up and expanded their retail line or expanded their businesses to give the town options to buy local,” Unzicker said. “It is truly a blessing to be able to tell community members to go to local businesses for the items they are looking for. Alliance businesses really do provide what you want and need or will order it for you.”

“All of tonight’s award winners are community minded and put our community first. I am grateful to be able to promote the wonderful membership that we have in Alliance.”

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