Chamber lauds community leadership during annual banquet
BY KARYN SPORY
Mt. Pleasant News
The pink diamond necklace being auctioned off during the annual Mt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce Banquet may have made a few women gasp, but it was the sense of community that was the real gem of the evening.
“This is not just about the Chamber of Commerce. This is about your Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance. We are a team and it has been an absolute joy to work with these groups since I got here,” said the Alliance’s Executive Vice President Kristi Ray as she praised the bond between the four entities that make up the aliance.
But the sense of community didn’t stop there, outgoing Chamber President Chris Van De Berg said. “The Chamber has continued to raise funds to help the Alliance to grow. But what pleases me the most,” Van De Berg said, “is that many of the events are directly related to giving back to our community.”
Van De Berg said the 355 members have worked very diligently during 2016 to bolster community involvement, whether it was partnerships between the city, school districts and local businesses.
Incoming Chamber President Jeff Fedler said he hopes his fellow chamber members are optimistic about their future and they live in a “community with great potential for growth and diversity.”
“As we grow, our most important goal in the coming year is to find new ways to foster meaningful connections between our members, customers and residents of our community,” he said.
Fedler believed this could be the Alliance’s best year yet. “I’d like to thank all of you for not only being here tonight but your membership to the Chamber and support. I’d like to encourage you all to be as involved as possible in the coming year.”
Following his address, a series of awards were presented, the first going to Brent Schleisman for the Main Street Mt. Pleasant Leadership Award. The Mt. Pleasant Dental Associates received the Area Development Commission Expansion Award and Matt Schimmelpfennig took home Volunteer of the Year.
“When we got together to talk about who would be the Volunteer of the Year, we decided that sometimes as an office full of women we sure do appreciate some good old fashion muscle,” said Ray. Ray said although she’s already called on this individual many times she’s excited to work with Schimmelpfennig when it comes to Rock Around the Block this summer, as it’s “his event.”
“I was very surprised,” said Schimmelpfennig, after the banquet. “I’m very humbled because I know there were a lot of other people more deserving.”
Schimmelpfennig said his volunteerism sprouted from coaching and helping out with his kids’ activities. However, his ability to give his time to the community sprouted and flourished with the support of his wife.
Lastly, Ray went off script and recognized someone she saw as a local hero.
“I have a great honor tonight and that is to recognize David File, who served as the president of the Area Development Commission for the past five years. Some call it a term, I call it a sentence,” Ray joked.
“When I got here,” she continued, “he quit. I don’t know what that says about me.”
File, who had worked for years as the Associate Vice President and Dean of Extended Learning at Iowa Wesleyan, stepped down from his position on the commission to become the president of the Mt. Pleasant Arts Impact.
“After retirement, David did not quit, he keeps giving back to our community,” said Ray.
Instead of presenting File with a plaque, Ray presented File and his wife, Trisha, with a trip to St. Louis and overnight stay so they can see their grandkids.
Ray also presented the Volunteer of the Year Award, which is voted on by the Alliance staff and recognizes an individual, “whose tireless efforts and commitment has had a significant impact on our organization and our community.”