Chamber banquet honors outstanding citizens

By Observer Upload March 15, 2013 10:36 am

Elgin Stampeders honored for contributions to the community 

by Trish Yerges/For The Observer

ELGIN — The Elgin Chamber hosted a sellout, awards banquet Tuesday, where five citizens, one organization, one business and the Elgin Stampeders were honored for outstanding contributions to the community.

“This year’s theme, ‘Boots, Chaps and Cowboy Hats’ celebrates the Elgin Stampedes’ success and recognizes its economic stewardship to the community of Elgin,” said Chamber President Kem Brainerd, who emcee’d the event. “By working together with other local organizations to make Elgin a better place.”

Guest speaker and Stampede Director Bud Scoubes spoke about the Stampeders’ local contributions. In 2012, their expenditures were $187,000 and much of that money paid for services and goods provided by local businesses.

“The Stampeders are very serious about benefiting Elgin,” Scoubes said. “We’re so much more than people who put on the rodeo.”

The Stampeders host the crab feed in February, participate in the Chamber Banquet in March and put on a big membership drive with a barbeque and dance in April. In May, they host their steak feed and offer their grounds as the site for the Elgin clean-up day. In June, they cater the Elgin Alumni Banquet and put on the mock train robbery to promote the excursion train and their rodeo. Their biggest event is the Elgin Stampede PRCA rodeo in July, bringing more than 5,000 people to Union County in one weekend. In August, they host a mud volleyball tournament fundraiser for local food banks. Throughout the year, they rent their hall to the public for gatherings, funerals and gun shows.

Scoubes announced that the Stampeders have two building projects in the works — an Old West Main Street facade at the Stampede grounds for vendors to utilize during their rodeo and a long-term project, a new Stampede Hall to serve the community.

The Chamber will use $367 of the proceeds from the banquet’s silent auction toward a memorial on the Elgin Opera House’s north lawn to the late Renee Rose of the Dirt Diggers Garden Club and Blue Mountain Quilters. Rose was awarded “Woman of the Year” in 2008 by the Chamber.

 Also honored

The Elgin Chamber handed out the following awards during its annual awards banquet:

Young Man of the Year: Brock Eckstein

“He was an Elgin High School sports star,” said Bill Ledbetter, who presented the award to Eckstein. “He excelled in both football and wrestling. In 1999 and 2000, he won the State competition in his weight division. In 2002, he enlisted in the army and served in South Korea and two tours in Iraq. His company in Iraq was hit by a roadside bomb, breaking his ear drum. He won a purple heart for services rendered during another incident. He continued his education after returning home, and now he is the owner of Subway. He is also the coach of the Elgin football team and referee. He is a survivor of life’s pitfalls, a hero, friend and young businessman.”

Young Woman of the Year: Gidget Sannar

“She sat on the city council and served on the Safe Routes to School committee, and helped get a $495,000 grant,” said presenter Sharon Glasson. “She has coached Little League, volunteers for the summer reading program and helps out the Girl Scouts on their trips. She is a full time bus driver for the Indian Creek bus route, and she is a teacher’s assistant for the Imbler resource room.”

Man of the Year: Bob Thomas

“He’s done so much for this community. He was an educator for years and years and probably taught a lot of you in this room. He is a member of the Elgin Lions Club, and he came to the Lions asking if we would help donate money to buy iPads,” said presenter Steve Oliver. “There are 29 billion people in the United States who can’t read or write at the first-grade level. Since Bob is retired, he has spent so much time at (Stella Mayfield) school helping with the reading programs.”

Woman of the Year: Elma Jean Wilhelm

“She works behind the scenes. She can be counted on,” said presenter Ann Warren. “She helps plan, organize and implement the annual alumni banquet. As a member of the Friends of the Community Center she works on the annual auction, raising funds to support maintenance needs, the pool and various other projects. She volunteered to help with many of the activities of the Elgin Ambulance Service when family members were on the crew. The Stampeders have appreciated her help at many functions.”

Organization of the Year: Elgin Lions Club

With 42 area members, presenter Evelyn Spikes said the Lions’ contributions are many, including vision and hearing screenings, improvements to the Community Center, donations of books for students and high school scholarships and iPads for the kindergarten and first-grade students. They have also donated rocking benches for the city sidewalks and replacement trees along Division Street.

Educator of the Year: Susie Thomas

“She began her job at Stella Mayfield School doing recess duty,” said presenter Nondas Christenson. “Her current position began as an assistant to the certified staff librarian. When the Elgin School District had to cut the librarian position, she carried on and kept her shelves stocked with fantastic reading material for both the voracious and struggling reader. She taught so many students how to use the library. She and her husband spend all summer getting books and ice cream to the kids in Elgin.”

Business of the Year: Community Bank

“This business cares for others and for the good of Elgin,” said presenter Cindy Chandler. “This business has five local employees all committed and involved in working for the good of the community. This business volunteers at the food bank, is a Lions’ Riverfest car show sponsor and assists during Elgin Clean-up Day.”

— Trish Yerges