Three awards were presented at the annual dinner meeting of the California Area Chamber of Commerce Jan. 25, in addition to honoring the California Rural Volunteer fire fighters.
The event at the California Nutrition Center began with a social time during which Phil Lewis entertained on piano while guests checked out the appetizers, bid on silent auction items and socialized.
Chamber President Norris Gerhart welcomed everyone and introduced those presenting the awards.
Evers and Company, CPA, LLC, with emphasis on Richard and Shirley Elliott of the local office at Village Green Shopping Center, were recipients of the 2013 Business of the Year Award, presented by Gail Hughes.
The Elliotts were joined by many of the other partners and associates in the business, including Elmer Evers. The California office started in 1978 and has grown substantially in its influence and importance in the area. The overall company has nine partners and locations in several communities. One of the partners, Dale Siebeneck, spoke briefly.
In addition to Richard and Shirley Elliott, California office staff includes Tammy Meisenheimer and Jason Blankenship.
"We really appreciate the chamber and the businesses for selecting us for this honor," said Richard Elliott, who divides his time between the California and Jefferson City offices. "We're pleased to be a part of California and plan to be a part of the city and community for years to come."
Pam Green was the recipient of the 2013 Citizen of the Year Award, presented by Ann Perry. Pam and her husband Rich moved into and renovated the Eitzen mansion several years ago. She has been involved in many aspects of California, including the Moniteau County Historical Society and the Friends of the Finke.
"I'm just absolutely blown away," Green said about the award. "It's quite an honor."
She said that she is a transplant, but California is home. Her parents were present for the award presentation.
Brad Baer was the recipient of the 2013 Chamber Volunteer of the Year Award. This was the second year for this award instituted by the California Area Chamber of Commerce in mid-2012. The award was presented by George Shelley.
"It's very gratifying to be rewarded for trying to help the community," Baer said.
Among other community activities, he has been a spearhead for the Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival. This year's recipient was the presenter of the award last year.
The California United Methodist Pastor Eric Moore, on behalf of the California Ministerial Alliance, led the invocation before the meal. Catered by California Eagles Auxiliary 4027, the meal included roast beef, potatoes, corn, green beans, gravy, rolls, salad and a large selection of desserts. The Eagles Auxiliary also provided the appetizers with Coca-Cola sponsoring soft drinks.
The California Rural Volunteer Firefighters were honored. Gerhart introduced the fire fighters as a group and presented individual certificates. The California Volunteer Fire Department began in 1954 with one truck housed at the old California City Hall at Stella and High Street. California Rural Fire Protection District now has five fire stations and 16 trucks.
Chamber President Gerhart pointed out the advances which have made California a better city over the past years. He spoke of the Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival and the support of Burgers' Smokehouse and Cargill. He mentioned that the city was extended to the west largely by the efforts of Kenny Vaughan, who died in 2013. This was done by Vaughan taking a chance and building a shopping center. He recognized Janet and Ron Gerhart, Vaughan's daughter and son-in-law, who are working on the upcoming 40th anniversary of Village Green Shopping Center.
During the chamber annual meeting, the minutes from the 2013 meeting were approved as well as the treasurer's report. Gerhart gave the president's report. A report of the 2013 Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival report followed. Gerhart reported the donation of chamber funds towards a City of California sign to be placed on the new four-lane Highway 50. This came from profits from the Ham and Turkey Festival.
The 2014 Chamber Board Directors were approved and the new officers of the chamber board. Officers for 2014 are President Becky Lawson, Vice President Jason Witt, Secretary Shelly Hampton and Treasurer Melissa Bonecutter.
Incoming Chamber President Lawson presented a certificate of appreciation to outgoing President Norris Gerhart.