Annual Chamber Banquet set for next weekAnnual dinner to highlight economic acheivements
The Washington Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Washington and the Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) have had a great year and want to share their successes with the public during the Washington Business Partnership dinner at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.
The three groups will host the annual dinner and awards banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 27, with a social hour. At 6:30 p.m. volunteer Heather Fedler will introduce the host, master of ceremonies Jaron Rosien will give an event introduction and Pastor Maureen Howard will give the invocation.
Dinner will then be served. At 7 p.m. annual awards will be given. Keynote speaker Aaron Thomas will begin at 8 p.m. Fedler will end the event about 8:45 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, contact the chamber at 319-653-3272.
“The chamber is adding one more award this year,” Chamber of Commerce assistant director Jaime Carpenter said. “We are going to recognize specifically a chamber volunteer. Because we rely so heavily on volunteers we wanted to find a way to recognize them.”
In addition to the awards and the speaker, Main Street Washington director Sarah Grunewaldt said the event is a celebration of the businesses that participate, the volunteers and the special events of the year. She said there would also be raffles. She said the dinner is a great community event that draws many people.
Last year, close to 300 people attended the event. Carpenter, who attended the banquet for the first time last year, said the best part is seeing the award winners, who have no idea they are going to be honored, be surprised when they are announced.
Carpenter said Thomas is the son of beloved high school football Coach Ed Thomas of Parkersburg. She said after the town was devastated by an EF5 tornado in May 2008, Coach Thomas rallied the community to rebuild. Today Parkersburg is considered a model of recovery after natural disaster.
Coach Thomas was killed by one of his former players. Rather than shun the family of his father’s murderer, Thomas and his family have called for understanding and forgiveness, feeling that is what Coach Thomas would have wanted them to do.
“He is really going to be speaking on community building and teamwork,” Grunewaldt said.
Looking back on the last year, Carpenter identified the special chamber sessions that were held as a high point for the group. She said the chamber reached out to every member to meet as a group and discuss the events and benefits of being chamber members. She also said this year’s chamber events had gone very smoothly.
Grunewaldt said that despite a rocky start of the year, Main Street Washington’s year had gone well.
She said the attendance at the events was great and the group had many great volunteers. She said the Lighted Holiday parade, complete with the radio show, was the high point of the year.
“The banquet is a great way to get together with the community and celebrate the good,” Carpenter said.
“I think a lot of times people tend to focus on the negatives that have happened in the last year and this is a way to focus on the positives of the year. it is a good reminder of all the things we did; of all the good businesses we have in town; of all the great volunteers we have in town. You are going to leave feeling good.”