Volunteers were recognized and honored for their efforts during the past year, as members of the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce gathered for the 2017 banquet.

The event, which took place on Thursday, July 20, at River Bend Casino in Wyandotte, included a mixture of laughter and tears, as members of the Grove area business community said goodbye to long-time chamber president, Lisa Friden.

Friden, chamber president for the past 14 years, is retiring at the end of the month, in order to move closer to family.

In her closing remarks, Friden thanked everyone who helped make the last 14 years a success. She became emotional as she thanked her team, which included Connie King, Lynda Redd and Don Bormaster.

During her farewells, Friden was presented with a basket of gifts, as well as a nighttime photograph of Sail Boat Bridge, as a token of thanks for her efforts for the chamber. 

Keynote address

During the evening, Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., who resides in Vinita, served as the keynote speaker.

Hoskin talked about the history of Cherokee Nation, and how it has impacted not only Oklahoma and northeast Oklahoma, but also Delaware County specifically.

Hoskin said the nation, which has an economic impact of $2.3 billion, has an annual impact of $56 million within Delaware County.

Of the 11,000 employees who work for Cherokee Nation related entities, at least 1,000 work in Delaware County, many spread out through West Siloam Springs, Jay and Grove.

Hoskin said the nation pumped $16 million into Delaware County through infrastructure projects, and gave more than $5 million to schools within northeast Oklahoma. 

Hoskin said it's an exciting time to be a member of the Cherokee Nation.

"We're a major economic engine for northeast Oklahoma," he said. "The best days for Grove are ahead, not behind us. The best days for the Cherokee Nation are ahead, not behind us.

"I know that we are going to do great things together."

Awards

During the evening three awards were presented: the Ambassador of the Year, the Bob Uttley Volunteer of the Year, and the Board of Director of the Year.

Amy Napier, with First National Bank, was presented the Ambassador of the Year honor, for her commitment to the chamber.

In presenting the award, Cindy Hefner, outgoing chamber chairman, said Napier "has been an amazing example of what it truly means to be an ambassador and what important role they play in the community."

Napier was honored for her help with the Leadership Grove Committee, Grove Chamber of Commerce Home and Garden Show, and as a director and treasurer for the chamber. Her assistance with the chamber's social media footprint was also touted.

Matt Henderson, a member of the INTEGRIS Grove Hospital family, was honored as the Bob Uttley Volunteer of the Year.

In making the presentation, Hefner said Henderson "always comes through the door with one of the best smiles you have ever seen."

Henderson was touted for his role in Leadership Grove, as well as the fact that he "rolls up his shirt sleeves to help on events," throughout the chamber's efforts. 

"He never hangs up from a phone call or leaves the chamber without asking 'can I help with anything,'" Hefner said. 

Kim Shearer with Grand Country Pest Control was named Board of Director of the Year. 

Hefner said Shearer's dedication to the chamber is why she was picked for the honor.

"Whether it's setting up and tearing down the Home and Garden Show, gathering donations for the Auction, or visiting with others about how their business can benefit from the chamber, you can always count on her," Hefner said. 

Other honors 

Incoming Chamber Chairman Jeff Dozier presented Hefner with a plaque, to honor her past year of service as the chamber chairman. Dozier also recognized the incoming officer team: Tim Bowen, incoming chairman, Napier, treasurer, and Hefner as past chairman.

The 2017-18 directors were also recognized: Dustin Able, Darren Cook, Ivan Devitt, Angie Edwards, Wanda Endicott, Angela Hamilton, Bill Keefer, Sandra Martin, Joy Justice, Brenda Newnam, Shearer, Andy Stewart, Steve Williams and Jaime Zellow.