Chamber leaders urge members to unite

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: Catelyn Annette Neilson, of Romancing the Past Bed and Breakfast, and Jan Keen, of Mimosa Design and Landscaping, talk during the annual chamber banquet on Friday night. The banquet was a 50s theme and was held at the Auto World museum.

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: Catelyn Annette Neilson, of Romancing the Past Bed and Breakfast, and Jan Keen, of Mimosa Design and Landscaping, talk during the annual chamber banquet on Friday night. The banquet was a 50s theme and was held at the Auto World museum.

As members gathered in their best 1950’s attire for the 2011 Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce annual banquet at the Auto World Museum Friday night, leaders of the organization made the focus of the event a continued message to work together.

Rev. H. C. Pennell started that call during his invocation.

“Help us to show other communities what it is like to be a true community working together,” Pennell said as he led the gathering in prayer.

Outgoing president Clint Smith continued that message as he thanked a long list of area leaders for their assistance during his reign and their contributions to the community, including Chamber Director Nancy Lewis and her staff, Fulton Mayor Charlie Latham, Fulton State Hospital COO Marty Martin-Forman and Westminster College President Barney Forsythe.

Smith talked about the potential impact a second nuclear facility for Ameren Missouri could have on Callaway County, such as landowners losing property to build roads and local school districts fighting over the financial benefits that would result from having a second reactor.

“I ask you to hold together as we move down this road,” he said.

Incoming president Stan Crawford also talked about the importance of Callaway residents and leaders coming together to make the community stronger.

“I like to talk to people, listen to people; I feel strongly about communication,” Crawford said. “We can’t survive by working in small pods.

“My goal is to get different groups working to better our community to communicate and working together.”

To help further that goal, he said he is asking board members to go out in the community, talk to chamber members and bring their concerns and ideas back to the board as a whole “so we might serve you better.”

“It’s hard for us to help you if we operate in a vacuum,” Crawford said.

Like Smith, he also visited the Ameren nuclear issue. He said it will take some time before that proposal becomes a reality, but the community needs to take steps now to prepare.

“In 25 years, we’re going to need a lot of extra fuel, and it’s not going to be there if we don’t make some decisions now,” Crawford said, noting a number of other leading countries — including China — already have taken steps toward nuclear power. “We talk about jobs, talk about what the nuclear power plant will bring to our community ... if we want to bring jobs to this state, that’s what we have to do.”

Crawford ended his speech by asking the 2011 board members to stand.

“One thing I want to leave you with is please find someone in this group you do not know, and please introduce yourself,” he said. “That hand you shake might hold the key to success for your future.”

In other business Friday night, the chamber presented its annual awards. The J.H. Atkinson Award, presented to a Callaway resident who has made a unique, marked contribution to the community, was given to John Bell. The Loyal Subject Award, given to a Callaway resident who offers contributions and/or service that has a positive impact on improving the quality of life for local residents was awarded to Joe Crane. The Chamber of Commerce Leadership Award, which is presented to an individual who has made consistent contributions to further the work of the chamber, was given to Joyce Metcalf. The Allen Conner Youth Award, which is given to a high school student or youth organization for community service was presented to Missouri Girls Town. Outgoing Sen. Carl Vogel was presented with the Key to the Kingdom for his constant presence in the community.

Banquet emcee Bruce Graham ended the night by once again returning to the theme of unity. He asked everyone in the room who had ever served on the chamber board, with local civic organizations, on any of the county school boards or in any other capacity as a community volunteer.

“Now that everybody’s standing up, I ask you to turn to your left and keep turning,” Graham said. “It takes everybody standing in this room to give us a successful and nice place to live.”

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