Four lauded by chamber for community work
It was a time to celebrate Baldwin City during the Annual Awards Dinner presented by the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce and Baker University Thursday in the Harter Union.
Chamber President Diane Niehoff spoke of the year and what's been accomplished as the city continues to grow. The chamber has an important role in what happens and there are many people who help make that happen, she said.
"There are a lot of people out there in Baldwin doing a lot of work," said Niehoff. "Danny and Becky McMillen with the 'Yard of the Week,' Christy Carlisle in welcoming new residents and there are countless others. The Baker staff does so much, such as Susan Hoffman with the 'Best of Baldwin' and Alice Ann Callahan-Russell who brings so much to our community.
"Sometimes I don't think we thank Baker enough for what they bring to our community," she said. "Last, but certainly not least, is my better half Jim. I couldn't do it without him."
Niehoff outlined some of the programs the chamber has going: a signage project to greet people entering Baldwin; a Christmas lighting program for downtown; the "Beautify Baldwin" project which includes "Yard of the Week;" participation in the Kansas Sampler Fest which will be in Ottawa this fall; and a brochure about Baldwin to use at the Sampler Fest.
Then, it was onto the awards. The Business Person of the Year award went to Niehoff and was presented by Mark Eldridge of Kansas State Bank. Chamber Member of the Year went to the Kansas State Bank, with Eldridge accepting the award presented by Jennie Washburn. The Community Service Award went to John Jackson and was presented by Marvin Jardon. Star Novak won the Partnership Service Award, which was presented by Carlisle.
Eldridge described Niehoff's work at Three Sisters Inn in citing why she won the business award. He said she is a gracious host and ambassador to Baldwin City. As for the inn, widely regarded as one of the best bed-and-breakfast establishments in the state, Eldridge said it provides a serene and quiet setting.
"The community of Baldwin has benefited from Diane's commitment to Baldwin," said Eldridge. "Thank you Diane, you make us very proud."
"The only mistake that has been made is there should be two names on the award," said Niehoff, who said her husband Jim is just as deserving. "I'm blessed with a wonderful staff, too."
Washburn used glowing words to outline what Eldridge and the Kansas State Bank have meant to the city. She listed the many programs and projects that Eldridge has been involved with, including Rotary Club, school activities, many duties in committee and other work for the city including the Recreation Task Force.
"Mark is a real champion of Baldwin City," said Washburn. "Mark has involved himself in whatever program or project is going on."
"It is an honor to me," Eldridge said in accepting the award for the bank, which had a full contingent of officers and trustees standing with him. "We have an outstanding citizenry in Baldwin City to do all this with me. We are growing at a very fast pace and I'm concerned about how that is done.
"My true inspiration comes from my family my wife, Jodie, and son, Brad," he said.
In presenting Jackson with the Community Service Award, Jardon mentioned how they'd graduated from high school together and had known each other a long time. Jardon explained how Jackson moved back to Baldwin after retirement and got involved with the chamber (currently in charge of membership), the Maple Leaf Committee and the Santa Fe Trail Historical Society, among others.
"He gets involved and stays involved," Jardon said. "I really can't think of anyone more deserving of the award than John Jackson."
"It's kind of special to get the award from Marvin Jardon. We have known each other so long that we don't tell stories about each other because that could be trouble," said Jackson. "As for the award, if you do not have help, you will not get anything done. I've had good help."
Carlisle tried to list everything that Novak is involved with in presenting her the Partnership Service Award, but there was too much, she said. Carlisle did list the Maple Leaf Committee, Baldwin High School Booster Club, Relay for Life, Baldwin City Arts Council, Girl Scouts, Baldwin City Community Theatre and the Kansas Sampler Fest Committee.
"She is actively involved in all those groups and more," said Carlisle. "She's a wonderful person."
"When I was called about the award, I was at a loss for words, which is pretty amazing for me," said Novak. "I feel very fortunate to live her. I would like to thank Baker and my family and friends, especially my husband John and daughters Katie and Rachel."