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Celebrating Estherville

Estherville Chamber Banquet honors those who have made a difference

October 17, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The ballroom of Studio 12 in the Excel Building was packed nearly wall to wall with tables as guests of the Estherville Chamber gathered for the annual dinner.

Those honored with Chamber awards were: Nancy Anderson, citizen of the year; Fareway, business of the year; and Larry Anderson and Gene Haukoos, lifetime achievement awards.

Thursday night's festivities included major contributions from Central Perk Coffeehouse, including the catering of heavy appetizers and treats, and over 100 chairs. Chamber Director Lexie Ruter noted that she and her small team carried the chairs in sets of three up the stairs to the ballroom.

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Ruter unveiled the new Chamber website and announced the initiative to provide each Chamber member with a single web page built by the Chamber's web service. Ruter said the pages will be designed for SEO (search engine optimization) and will connect to any existing website or social media page.

Among other accomplishments, Ruter said the completion of the "Enjoy Estherville" came with her gratitude for those who participated in it. It was a year of great turnouts, Ruter said, with 897 people coming out for the Fright Hike, thousands for the 20th Annual Sweet Corn Days, and the trail run. Ruter also graduated from the Institute for Organizational Management, a four-year process.

Estherville Area Growth Partnership director Lyle Hevern highlighted the organization's ability to create an incentive package in the millions of dollars to attract new business to the Estherville area. Most recently, the Partnership created and continued to build a package to attract the Veterans Administration clinic to Estherville from Spirit Lake. Ultimately, the government chose to build the new clinic in Spirit Lake as they had secured a location at the intersection of Highways 9 and 71.

Hevern also presented statistics about opportunities and workforce development in Estherville, and announced the name change of Dakota Pack to Redwood Farms in advance of its upcoming ribbon cutting on its new building.

Hevern said of the Excel Building, "Thirty-four people work in this building."

Bob Jensen of Excel Estherville promised to keep his presentation brief, relying on notes that fit on a quarter sheet of paper.

Jensen also thrilled the assembled crowd by reciting the Boy Scout Oath, a verse he had not thought of for 45 years, he said.

Jensen remarked on the capital campaign for the Avera Holy Family Hospital emergency department, the trail system, the plans for the municipal pool, continuing plans for the Central Avenue bridge, the Gold Star memorial, and the fact that the development of the Excel building was launched with the majority of the funds coming from Excel Estherville.

Jensen said Excel has awarded 41 business faade grants in the Estherville downtown district, and hopes to "hit really hard" on a project to develop the second stories of the downtown storefronts with businesses and studio apartments.

Nancy Anderson's award for citizen of the year came with Ruter's gratefulness at Anderson's hours of volunteer time for the Chamber since Anderson's retirement.

Ruter remarked that lifetime achievement award recipient Larry Anderson, Ruter's uncle, was a reason she is Chamber director today. "Larry's ethic of volunteering has come through the generations, and influenced my community service," Ruter said.

Gene Haukoos, the other lifetime achievement award recipient, said, "I knew what was up when I saw my family here." Haukoos was cited for years of helping with veterans' events and at the VFW, among many other acts of service.

Larry Anderson and Haukoos are both longtime members of the Estherville City Council.

Fareway was awarded business of the year for its remodel and for the events and activities the store sponsors throughout the year. Store manager Dale Breuer was also recognized for his volunteer work with Kiwanis and Rotary.

Ruter also announced the sale of Estherville Bucks for 2017 was on track to exceed 2016 sales of $30,000 by $10,000.



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