NAPPANEE — Nappanee Chamber of Commerce held its 2016 Annual Appreciation and Awards Dinner the evening of Monday, Feb. 29. The event recognized several businesses with awards. A guest speaker and keynote speaker also addressed the crowd.
Keynote speaker was Nappanee Mayor Phil Jenkins. The theme was “Red, White and You.” A patriotic theme was evident throughout the night at the event.
Jenkins, Nappanee’s first full-time mayor, is in his first year in office. He spoke of investing in people.
“We don’t know how long we will be here,” he told the crowd of about 200. “We need a balance.”
Jenkins said people need a balance between faith, family, work and health. He said, “We need to invest in faith and that family is the nucleus.” He also said the citizens of Nappanee need to invest in work and in their health.
“We need to invest in our communities, too,” he said. “We have a thriving community.”
Jenkins noted, “We have idea makers and risk takers,” some who started businesses. “We have servants,” he said, who aid people needing help.
Since Nappanee was established in 1874, Nappanee has flourished, he said. Service clubs, volunteers, the Nappanee Boys and Girls Club and Family Christian Development Center have all helped meet the needs of society, Jenkins stated. He also said he is happy for the “people who give time to our schools.”
Jenkins said he hopes to develop a master plan, stating he wants to establish a clear picture of where Nappanee will be in 20 to 30 years. Currently, he is working on filling vacant retail shops, some located in the downtown Nappanee area. A new upscale consignment store is opening in downtown Nappanee soon. Another store is opening soon near the old Alco location.
Jenkins also said industry is expanding. If Nappanee receives the Regional Cities Initiative money, the funds will be used for future growth and, if not, it will have “built relationships.”
“My challenge is to stretch yourself,” he concluded as he spoke to the crowd.
After his speech, Jenkins was given a survival tool kit from “Uncle Sam,” who was actually Jeff Kitson, Nappanee’s chamber director.
Guest speaker was Jason Harrison of Horizon Education Alliance. Horizon Education Alliance is a non-profit organization working to improve educational success in Elkhart County. The alliance is based in Goshen.
Citizen of the Year award was given to Tracy Hochstetler, owner of Dal-Mar Catering Banquet Hall, where the event was held.
Educator of the Year Award was given to Jim Hess, a NorthWood Middle School teacher. Hess is a social studies teacher at the school and a coach. He also sponsors two clubs at the school.
Three Excellence in Business Awards were also handed out. The awards went to inTech Trailers, Kountry Wood Products and Topping Dental Group.