Chamber honors people, businesses

Every year, the Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce holds their annual awards ceremony.

Posted On Jan. 23, 2014

By Breanna Kaitfors

Record Reporter


Every year, the Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce holds their annual awards ceremony. It isn’t a fancy occasion where everyone dresses in designer gowns and walks a red carpet but it’s probably the closest thing Hettinger has.

Throughout the year, members of the community take notice of certain businesses or individuals who are constantly going above and beyond what is expected of them. Around here, things like that go a long way and make a huge difference to the community and the people who live in it.

One member of the community, who attended the awards ceremony last week, said, “The awards presentations really leave one with a positive feeling about our community.”

There were eight different categories for this year’s awards.


Business Person of the Year

This is an award that goes to an owner or employee or a current Chamber Business Member who is a business leader and actively involved in the community. The 2013 Business Person of the Year goes to Jeff and Liz Hallen.

The Hallens are having a big impact on the business community. They are having a similar impact that big time businessmen such as Laverne Stippich, Bud Anfinson, Kenny Christenson and Roland Zimmerman have had on Hettinger in years past. The community benefits greatly from the investments and entrepreneurial spirit this couple brings to town.

Jeff has recently become very active on the 4th of July committee. He has a lot of new ideas and really deserves recognition for his efforts. He also brought the Christmas Tree back to Main Street. If you’ve been through Hettinger at all since Thanksgiving, you would have undoubtedly taken notice of the beautifully lighted tree standing proudly in the middle of town.

In addition to his volunteer work, AgPro Equipment Services is expanding and doing great. The new development on the outskirts of town serves as a giant sign that screams, “Hettinger is alive and thriving.”

Liz is a dynamic and aggressive realtor who has brought many new people to our community by sale of property. She markets Hettinger Real Estate to our community and the surrounding area with a finesse that is greatly admired and appreciated.

Jeff and Liz Hallen continue to be very dedicated and involved with the community. Together, they have created a powerful, positive impression on Hettinger.


Volunteer of the Year

Individuals who display leadership, concern and commitment to organizations, community functions and individuals in need are eligible to be nominated for Volunteer of the Year. This year, the award goes to Dr. Chris Schauer.

It’s often times the people who are most busy that are the first to volunteer and support the community when need arises. This rings true when it comes to Chris. He is a beacon of what it means to invest your heart and soul into the community.

Chris is a strong family man, dedicated professional scientist and livestock producer. He also volunteers greatly throughout the community.

Currently, Chris is Squad Leader for the West River Ambulance and in 2012 was named the North Dakota EMS Provider of the Year. He has also participated on the Fair Board, Theater Board, Music Boosters, Cowboy Band, Cub Scouts Den Leader, Chamber of Commerce Board, Chamber Tent set up, Chamber Rodeo Committee and various other committees.

Perhaps one of his biggest dedications recently is to 4-H. He’s been extremely instrumental in developing a project barn to accommodate 4-H members, enabling them to participate in more livestock projects.


Medical Service Provider of the Year

This award is for Nurse’s Aids, Nurses, Doctors, Medical Receptionists, Lab Techs, Radiology Techs, etc. who have shown outstanding work and commitment in their field of expertise. For 2013, both Dr. Thomas Jacobson and Dr. William Elder were chosen as co-winners of this award.

One nominator this year said, “How does one decide which of these awesome soon-to-retire doctors, who have served Hettinger for a combined total of 79 years, deserves the award?”

Dr. Jacobson is a committed, patient, knowledgeable and compassionate man who always goes above and beyond when it comes to his job. He makes phone calls daily to other facilities where his patients have been transferred. He’s been known to make trips to the ER for his patients even when he isn’t the doctor on call. Peers have stated that he has never complained.

He has provided rural family health for over 44 years. His expertise, however, lies in women’s health and pre/postnatal health care. It was said that Dr. Jacobson has delivered near 6,300 babies in his career. He’s delivered babies and then delivered their babies! The doctor humbly corrected that it’s probably closer to 5,000.

Dr. Thomas Jacobson’s jolly attitude never fails to put his patients at ease. He is greatly respected. His commitment to excellence has helped create a medical facility with a standard of car far above large communities.

The significance of Dr. William Elder’s work lies not only in his dedication to each and every one of his patients, but also in the intensity and depth of his convictions. He strongly believes in what he does and in the healing process. Always concerned with strengthening his knowledge base and experience, Dr. Elder has a true understanding of what the patient and their families need.

He takes the time to listen to his patients and seeks out the questions they might be hesitant to ask. Some might say his greatest gift is that of rural compassion when his wisdom and practice are more urban.

Much like his co-winner, Dr. Elder isn’t hesitant at all when it comes to making an after-hours trip back to the hospital in order to answer questions or address concerns.

Hettinger is lucky to have experienced such an expert, compassionate and humble surgeon. The effects of Dr. Elder’s work and his influence on healthcare on the prairie will be felt for years.


Educator of the Year

This award goes to a Sunday School Teacher, Public School Staff, Piano Teacher, etc. that has gone above and beyond the call of duty for the good of their students. Larry Lueck is the winner of this year’s Educator of the Year Award.

Mr. Lueck has taught in the Hettinger Public School system since 1985, though he insists he learns just as much from students as they do from him. He firmly believes that both teachers and students need to earn the respect they feel they deserve and that if you don’t want to learn, you need to be quiet so that students, who want to learn, can.

Lueck’s master in Agricultural Science and minor in Science provide a solid ground for his students to learn from. Currently, he is qualified to teach more Science and Agriculture classes than Hettinger School has to offer.

He has worked hand-in-hand with handicapped students, doing projects with them in his shop. It’s rewarding to the child, but to him as well.

Countless extra hours have been given back to the community by Lueck through his volunteer work with organizations such as West River Ambulance, Hettinger Jaycees, Hettinger Fire Department, Hettinger Zoning Committee, Pheasant Feast, NMB and the Hettinger Lutheran Church.


Pioneer Business of the Year

This business should show community support above and beyond being a business owner. To win this award, a business has to have been in business for more than 20 years and remains in business today. The winner of the 2013 Pioneer Business of the Year award is Carmel’s Cleaners.

This cornerstone business on Main Street has been open and running in Hettinger for more than 40 years. It was opened in the 70s by Carmelo and Joann Bonomo. They sold the business to their son and his wife, Joel and Paige Bonomo in the 90’s.

The original philosophy of Carmel’s Cleaners was “Customer is #1.” The Bonomo family has taken great strides to make sure that philosophy is lived up to, even today.

Many people feel comfortable and confident with the Bonomo’s ability to do quality work. People who no longer live here still bring their dry cleaning to Carmel’s whenever they’re in town. That’s making an impression that really lasts.

Many people don’t know that Carmel’s gives back to the community frequently and in ways no one else can. They often go with little to no public recognition. For example, they do free cleaning for the Hettinger Fire Department as needed. They have also been known to do free cleaning when a disaster such as a flood or fire has devastated a family.

Carmel’s took a big hit recently when some of their major equipment went down. It would have been really easy for them to lock their doors and be done for good. However they took huge strides, looking high and low for what they needed to get their business back in working order along with keeping their loyal customers in the know.


Youth Employee of the Year

A current High School Student, including seniors of the past May. This youth must show commitment to the business in which they work and their customers. This year’s winner is Annie Johnson.

Annie Johnson is currently employed at Kennedy’s Fresh Foods where she continues to make the shopping experience more enjoyable. It is apparent to anyone she helps that Johnson enjoys her job and having the opportunity to serve others. While she may come off as shy, it hasn’t taken her long to become a friendly, happy member of the Kennedy Family.

Serving as a role model for other young people who are entering the work force, Johnson is always courteous to the customers and willing to do what is asked of her. She always finds projects to work on when it’s not busy and she’s willing to put in many extra hours whenever she is asked to cover someone else’s hours.

Annie Johnson is an excellent youth employee.


Partner in Community Pride

This award goes to a business or organization with outstanding community support, volunteers for community functions, decorated business front, employee participation in community organizations. The 2013 Partner in Community Pride is the Hettinger Volunteer Fire Department.

There are many reasons why the Fire Department is a good choice for Partner in Community; however the final push was when they went above and beyond the call of duty after the October snow storm.

Seven firemen and a high school student decided it was necessary to help their community. They set out and began cleaning trees, branches and other debris from retired firemen, or their widow’s yards. These men also took the addresses of several people who could also use their help, and agreed to do so if time permitted. On the first day, 12 yards were cleaned and more than 60 loads of debris were hauled out.

This was an extremely unselfish act of kindness that helped not only the families and individuals whose yards were cleaned, but also to the community which gained its beauty and charm back with just one day’s hard work.

The time given by Devin Faller, the high school student, was also a phenomenal act of kindness and dedication to our community.


Ag Producer of the Year

Any Producer who represents themselves professionally and successfully in agriculture, is actively involved with the community and demonstrates leadership in agriculture is eligible for this award. The award for this year goes to Dave Pearson.

Pearson embodies the statement “actively involved with the community and demonstrates leadership in agriculture.”

He became the shepherd at the NDSU Hettinger Research Extension Center in 1991. During his time there, he has been a resource to sheep producers in the region and throughout the state with answers to sheep related questions, a sheep seed stock producer and a youth livestock judging coach.

As a shepherd at the Research Center, Pearson is responsible for the daily care of 1,200 head of ewes. His activities go far beyond just feeding and lambing. He has answered thousands of sheep related questions in his years as shepherd. He is a resource, not only to sheep producers in the region but the state and throughout the upper mid-west. He has judged livestock shows at the State Fairs in Minnesota and South Dakota. Pearson currently serves on the ND Board of Animal Health representing sheep producers at the ND Department of Agriculture and also is a regional Director for ND Lamb & Wool Producers Association.

Pearson and his family have been involved with seed stock sheep production since he graduated from college. They sell Suffolk sheep as commercial and registered rams throughout North and South Dakota. It’s no surprise that the Pearson children all have a love for sheep, just like their father. He continues to assist and mentor them with their involvement in sheep production.

For 32 years, Pearson has been a youth livestock judging coach. By teaching how to critically evaluate livestock and publicly present their reasons with confidence, his teams have placed 1st and 2nd in the state 4-H division and have gone on to place at the National level. Pearson has taught the discipline of livestock judging to students from the age of 9 to 18 – many of whom had no livestock background at all. He has easily made an impact on over 300 students.