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story.lead_photo.caption Graham Thomas/Siloam Sunday Jerry Cavness, 2017 Pioneer Citizen, presented Cathi and Bob Coleman with the 2019 Pioneer Citizen Award on Thursday at the 89th annual Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce Banquet held at the Cherokee Casino and Hotel in West Siloam Springs, Okla.

The Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet on Thursday evening, an occasion in which chamber members, city officials and community members were afforded the opportunity to celebrate the economic and social growth that has taken place over the last year, and perhaps most importantly, to pay tribute to a select few whose contributions were unparalleled.

The banquet took place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Qualla Ballroom of the Cherokee Casino and it was made possible by a number of sponsors, such as La-Z-Boy, Simmons Foods, Siloam Springs Medical Center or Sam's Club. As the night kicked off, guests were first treated to a buffet dinner and around 7 p.m., Chamber President and CEO Wayne Mays approached the podium to welcome everyone and introduced Pastor Jim Henderson of Sager Creek Community Church, who delivered the opening prayer.

This was followed by the chamber's 2019 ambassador chair, Billie Jean Buckler, who recognized certain ambassadors of the chamber, who are representatives of various businesses in the area that are chamber members. Ambassadors assist the chamber in facilitating events throughout the year and some of them mentioned by Buckler included Marla Collins of Moss Insurance, Christina Drake of Coldwell Banker and Bambi Lawlis of the Siloam Springs School District.

Thereafter, Randy Torres took the stage to begin presenting a variety of awards to several businesses and individuals. Among them were the Moose Van Poucke Ambassador of the Year award, which was won by Reid Carroll; the Small Business of the Year award, won by the "Coleman Team" of Crye-Leike Realtors; and the Mid-Size Business of the Year award, which went to Moss Insurance.

Torres then presented the award for Large Business of the Year to Cherokee Casino, and the Jerry Cavness Non Profit of the Year award to Community Clinic. Torres said that factors taken into consideration when selecting the winner of the Non Profit award are things like the number of volunteer hours a non profit has, events they have held, community projects they are working on or their social media presence. He then presented this year's Diamond Member award to A-AAA Self Storage, a local business that was selected because they have been a member of the chamber for 40 years and counting.

Torres introduced Tyler Dees of Simmons Foods, who he said is the incoming board chair for the Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Dees gave a brief speech, describing his upbringing in Siloam Springs and how his life experiences have shaped his perspective of Siloam Springs, as well as his desire to use his skill set to give back to the community as best he can.

He concluded by thanking outgoing board members for their service and welcoming the board's incoming members. Following Dees' speech was the "State of the Chamber," an address given by Mays to update chamber members on how things have been going with different chamber programs and initiatives, and he also touched on a number of other topics along the way.

As his speech came to a close, Mays said that it was time for "what you've been waiting for." This was a reference to the final item on the schedule for the night, the presentation of the Pioneer Citizens award.

The Pioneer Citizens award is given each year to select citizens who have exhibited an exceptional degree of public service to the community over the years. This year, its recipients included Raquel Beck and Bob and Cathi Coleman, who received it as a couple. The award was first presented to Beck, who gave a speech in which she emphasized how it felt to receive it, stressing that it was something that she never would have imagined as being possible.

"I just want you to know how very humbled I am and grateful to be here tonight," Beck said. "Who would have thought that a little girl who immigrated to these United States at the age of five years old, who didn't speak a word of English, would have an opportunity for an education to be able to stand before you tonight. That little girl never thought she would be here.

"Who would have known that a young girl in her 20s who had moved to the Siloam Springs area, whose first job was working for the Siloam Chamber of Commerce, and who used to take her sandwich lunch and would park in front of the cemetery and eat her lunch by herself because she really didn't know anybody in the community very well, would be here accepting this wonderful recognition. ... Not only has it been my joy, but my passion to be able to help serve those in medical need in our community, but it has been my privilege."

Following Beck's address to the audience was the presentation of the award to Bob and Cathi Coleman. The Colemans are the first married couple to receive the award and Cathi Coleman was the first to speak. She described the feeling of receiving the award as an incredible honor and similarly to Beck, said the award, along with the way her life circumstances have worked out, are both things she never thought possible.

"Little did I ever think that a shy, southern girl like me would marry a southern Virginia boy and bring him back to Siloam Springs and eventually we would become Santa and Mrs. Claus, this has been a 40-year ride, I will tell you for sure," Cathi Coleman said.

After Cathi Coleman finished, her husband stepped up to the podium to briefly address the audience. He spoke on a number of topics, from his role as Santa Claus each year to meeting and marrying his wife, ending with a word of advice to those who might be struggling or searching for something in life.

"If you want to make a difference in a life or in a situation, it requires faith and a conviction to do what you're doing," Bob Coleman said. "If you can't put those two statements to work, make those elements work with what you're trying to do, it's probably not worth doing. Jeremiah 29:11 says it best, 'For I know the plans I have for you says the lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'

"If you've seen some of the messes I've gotten myself into, you'll know how much I rely on that promise that he made to me, because that's what helped me get to where we are right now with our status in life, and I thank God for that. So if you don't know the plan He has for you, let me recommend you talk to the Chief Planner as soon as you can. Thank you so much and God bless each and every one of you."

General News on 02/10/2019

Print Headline: Another year, another successful chamber banquet

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