Locals awarded at Chamber’s 105th gala

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2024

By Liv Nettesheim, Chamber Communications Intern

The Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 105th annual Awards Gala on June 7 at Stuart Powell Field at the Danville-Boyle County Airport.

This year’s theme was vintage aviation, and the “First Class of the Bluegrass” attendees were dressed to impress. Guests were welcomed into the Executive Hangar via a red carpet and velvet ropes. Tables were decorated with flowers and aviation and exploration themed decorations. Vintage airplanes stood outside the hangar offering plentiful photo opportunities.

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The opening reception, sponsored by Whitaker Bank, included a cocktail hour where flight attendants offered glasses of champagne and the room bubbled with conversation. Passengers enjoyed a photo booth and charcuterie table, and excitedly welcomed first-time flyers. Dinner was served by Chaplin River Catering, who offered attendees a full “comfort plus” meal of roast beef or turkey with gravy, topped off with a bread pudding with bourbon sauce, in true Kentucky fashion.

Alethea Bruzek, chair of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, presented the awards alongside Jeff Jewel, executive director of the Chamber.

The ceremony kicked off with the “Outstanding Citizen Award,” presented by Bob Allen Motor Mall. This award is presented to those who volunteer hundreds of hours to benefit their community and help the people around them. This year’s recipient, Lahannah Bonagofski, who co-owns Copper and Oak and its neighboring establishment La Cosa Nostra, earned the award for unwavering commitment to this community.

The “Outstanding Volunteer Award,” presented by Centre College, was given to Ginny Hogue for her dedicated involvement in the non-profit community.

The next set of awards were presented to outstanding businesses in Boyle County. The “Outstanding Large Business Award” was presented by Holiday Inn Express and Suites and the Hampton Inn by Hilton. This year’s award was given to newcomer Chick-fil-A, for their growth, appearance, community service, and chamber involvement. As the recipient accepted the award, Jewel highlighted how in the first meeting he had with Chick-Fil-A when they came to town, the majority of the conversation was about how Chick-Fil-A could help the community.

The “Outstanding Small Business Award” was presented by CentreWorks, and given to Cerci on Main for their growth and appearance in the community and chamber.

The Legacy Award and the Business Person of the Year Award speeches tugged on the heartstrings of the event attendees. The “Legacy Award,” sponsored by The Advocate-Messenger and bestowed only on occasion, was given to Charlotte Henson, who passed away on Feb. 13 of this year at the age of 93. Charlotte was the producer and president of the Board of Directors at Pioneer Playhouse of Danville, and is described by her family as someone who truly “did it all.” Pioneer Playhouse, which is celebrating its 75th season this summer, continues to operate in her spirit as Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre.

The “Business Person of the Year Award” was sponsored by Develop Danville Inc. and presented to Kate Snyder, owner of Plaid Elephant Books. Snyder received this award for her community service, civic leadership, personal character, peer respect, and Chamber involvement. In her speech, Kate discussed how she not only chose to open a bookstore because she loves books, but because she truly believes bookstores bring people together. Kate saw the mark the pandemic left on the community and knew that a bookstore was just what Danville needed. She took a leap of faith through CentreWorks’ Liftoff program, and started Plaid Elephant.

The “Rising Star Award” was presented by the Inter-County Energy Cooperative and received by Rob Caudill. This award recognizes the contributions of young professionals under the age of 40 in the community to spotlight their achievements and contributions to the community.

The “Ambassador of the Year Award” was presented by Bluegrass Community and Technical College: Danville Campus and was received by Vice Chair of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Financial Advisor for Edward Jones Investments Heidi Crutchfield. Heidi received this award for her contributions to the Ambassador Council, which is a core group of Chamber volunteers. Heidi accepted the award in full flight attendant uniform, further signaling her commitment to the Chamber.

The “Directors Award” was presented by the Chamber and was received by Mari Webb. Mari is the Administrative Assistant for the Chamber of Commerce and dedicates countless hours every week to the Chamber and its endeavors.

The “Bruce Montgomery Award” was presented by Denham Blythe and received by Mimi Becker. This award is given to a Leadership Boyle County Alumni for continued leadership qualities and involvement in the Leadership program.

The “Community Arts Award’ was sponsored by Pioneer Playhouse and awarded to the Boyle County Performing Arts Center. The Performing Arts Center is dedicated to promoting the arts and community engagement with the arts, as arts programs are being cut across the nation.

The “Hospitality Award” was sponsored by Car Express Wash and received by Morley’s Backyard for its vibrant atmosphere and its role as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

The “Educator of the Year Award” is presented to an inspirational and exceptional educator who creates positive learning for youth in our community. This award was presented by Abound Credit Union and received by Michelle Feistritzer.

The “Community Impact Award” was sponsored by Farmers National Bank and is given to individuals or organizations that address the community’s needs in profound ways. This year’s recipient, Casa of the Bluegrass, accepted the award as a team, signalling the group effort of their organization as advocates against child abuse in the community.

The awards ceremony concluded with two winners in the “Historically Bold” category presented by Wilderness Trail Distillery.

The “Preservation Award” was awarded to the Boyle County Fiscal Court, in particular for their efforts to preserve Constitution Square as a community and historical space that hosts events such as the Boyle County Farmers’ Market every Saturday.

Stuart Powell Field was awarded the “Boldly Forward” award. The winners finished off the ceremony with a heartwarming speech emphasizing that our community is made up of the people, contributions, businesses, and volunteers who dedicate their time to making a great community, and the vision and passion it takes to carry out this mission.

After the award ceremony, passengers celebrated their achievements and enjoyed a tethered hot air balloon ride and danced with DJ Reece and MC Groove on the dance floor. The event embodied what it means to be a part of this great city and county: people who care about their community and about each other, who create the vision that drives our community forward.

Major sponsors of the gala included Develop Danville, Community Trust Bank, Stuart Powell Ford, Atmos Energy, Centre College, Johnson-Pohlmann Insurance, and Ephraim McDowell Health.

The Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Stuart Powell Field, the Awards Gala Committee, and all of the businesses, individuals, and organizations that made this event possible.