Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, officer and installation, and Presentation

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Business owners, friends of the Chamber, and invited guests gather in the Ballroom of the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel on Friday, January 22, 2021, for a review of 2020 activities, Board and officer installation, and the presentation of its annual awards described [above/below].
Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden speaks at the Chamber Meeting before taking questions from the audience.
Laura Gramlich, President of the Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, welcomes business owners and guests to the Chamber’s annual meeting, officer installation, and awards presentation held Friday, January 22, 2021, at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville.

The Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting, officer installation, and awards presentation on Friday, January 22 in the Ballroom of the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville.

Boonville Chamber Executive Director Karen Esser and 2021 Board President Laura Gramlich emceed the event.  

Esser said the Chamber expected the numbers attending would be down due to the lingering pandemic with some citing COVID as the reason for their absence. She said the Isle encouraged all guests to social distance and wear a mask as precautions and all complied. “It was an emotional evening,” Esser said. “The award recipients each had unique stories that supported her/his nomination, but all were classic examples of what community means.  It was uplifting – a real “feel good” event.”

Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden was the evening’s guest speaker.  In addition to his update on legislative matters, he called for questions from the audience and addressed the issues raised, including the status of repairs to the Katy Trail section between Boonville and Rocheport, which continues to have a negative economic impact on the Boonslick area.  The Chamber very much appreciated Senator Rowden’s assurances that repairs of the Trail are a high priority which should be addressed in 2021.  

Following a review of 2020 activities, Esser formally installed the 2021 Board of Directors and Laura Gramlich as the 2021 Chamber Board President, replacing Holly Simpson, whose term expired December 31.  Gramlich and Esser recognized the 2020 Board members – Kim Brady, Curtis Carter, Chris Howard, Tim Litteken, Carri Risner, and Holly Simpson, who did not seek re-election, and Robin Billings, Hannah Painter, and Vickie Zeller, whose professional and personal obligations necessitated a break from Board activities for the next term.  

Gramlich commented on activities planned for Calendar 2021 if it is deemed safe to hold such in the coming year.

The Chamber celebrated local businesses, presenting seven awards to the following deserving recipients:

National Recognition to the Boonslick Area:  Award Recipient – Greis Trucking & Excavating, Inc.

For 75 years of service to the city, county, state, and nation, realizing the dreams of its founder, Marvin Louis Greis; expanding under the guidance of his son, Marvin Lee Greis with assistance from the third Greis generation, Mark, Clark, and Denise, and her husband, Patrick Solomon; and extending to the fourth generation as Jacob Greis joins the family business.  

New Partner:  Award Recipient – Buerky’s BBQ, and owner, Matt Buerky

For a willingness to help others in the community by donating to fundraisers; providing meals for the less fortunate, including holiday meals to the children at Coyote Hills Children’s Home; or providing local employment.  And, for restoring what Main Street lost with the closure of the downtown bakery – as the award presenter emphasized – “you can smell when they’re open”.

Special Recognition:  Award Recipient – C&R Markets

For its practice of providing employment opportunities for students with disabilities, giving them real-life job experience; affording them an opportunity to gain job skills along with confidence and pride, resulting in their becoming contributing members to society and this community.  C&R also contributes generously to local groups and organizations; supports fundraisers through donations of goods and services; and sponsors numerous sports teams.

Special Recognition:  Award Recipient – Starlite Kruisers Car Club    

For its annual support of the Boonville Buddy Pack Program and other worthwhile projects and programs in the Boonslick area and for bringing a first-class car show to the Heritage Days Festival each year at no personnel or financial cost to the Festival, which recognizes the value the car show brings to it and to surrounding businesses as its popularity draws loyal fans from all parts of Missouri and surrounding states.  

President’s Award:  Award Recipient – Boonville R-1 School District Administration and Staff

For facing countless challenges in this pandemic year – ensuring the health and welfare of students enrolled in the district; dealing with daily, ever-changing guidelines; maintaining services and safety nets needed by some families, even as school closings were mandated nationwide; writing and re-writing lesson plans and developing methods to provide virtual learning so students could continue to develop; and for the collective efforts to produce creative, innovative, and novel approaches to the extraordinary challenges created by COVID-19.

Pat Jackson Distinguished Service:  Award Recipient – Frank Thacher (Posthumously) 

For a life-long commitment to Boonville, serving in leadership roles for professional and service organizations; lending his considerable talents to community fundraising efforts, such as the Boonslick Heartland YMCA Founders Campaign, the Veteran’s Memorial Committee, the Friends of Historic Boonville Endowment Campaign, and chairmanship of the Missouri River Festival of the Arts, revitalizing that event.  Earning a Purple Heart in Vietnam, this proud veteran decorated the gravesites of fellow service men and women by placing flags at Walnut Grove Cemetery each year at Memorial Day accompanied by his grandsons.   

Business of the Year:  Award Recipient – CMMG, Inc.

For recognizing the need to support others within the community whose livelihoods were threatened by global pandemic mandated closures; adjusting its own business and employee schedules to ensure their safety while meeting business demands; creating ways to improve company morale; purchasing meals to help local restaurateurs survive; and sharing that bounty with this community’s first responders in recognition of their service.  For going above and beyond because it was the right thing to do.   

Each recipient spoke briefly to thank the membership for the recognition but also to acknowledge the Boonslick area for creating an environment that sustains its businesses, its residents, and defines what it is to be a community.  The evening concluded with music provided by Russell Gerling.