(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON - The applause was loud and long as the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce honored community members, businesses, volunteers and others Thursday evening during their annual banquet.
Calling this year's recipient's all qualified and well deserving, SACC Executive Director Missy Marshall praised the Chamber membership for their outstanding nominations.
For the first time in the Chamber's history, the Citizen of the Year is a woman, Marshall noted. The honor was presented to Janie Pfefferkorn for her efforts on behalf of the community by Steve McPheeters.
Also honored during the evening were: Cummins Gateway, Small Business of the Year; Health Facilities Rehabilitation Services, Business of the Year; American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, Civic Group of the Year; Tom Austin, SACC Volunteer of the Year; Carolyn Harris, Educator of the Year; Capt. Brenda Schiwitz, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year; and John Rowland, Jaycee Distinguished Service Award.
"Janie Pfefferkorn's hundreds of hours in service to this community have all been freely given," noted her nominators. "Her volunteer hours continue to enhance the quality of life for all in the Sikeston community, but especially for the disadvantaged and most in need."
Instrumental in organizing the Christian Block Party, Pfefferkorn's efforts eventually evolved in Mission Missouri, where she serves executive director. Through Mission Missouri, Pfefferkorn and her staff operate a soup kitchen, continue to host the Christian Block Party, provide a summer day camp in cooperation with the YMCA, direct the Mission Missouri House of Liberty which serves as a community resource center and offer networking for social services, private retail businesses and faith-community organizations.
Also Pfefferkorn is active in her church and is a member of the Breast Cancer Support Group, the Governor's Advisory Board at the Missouri School of the Blind and the Scott County Interagency Council. She serves a public speaker and is an involved wife and mother.
Janet Moll presented the Small Business of the Year Award to Cummins Gateway's Gary Noisworthy. "Our winner is not a high-profile company but instead quietly goes about the business of providing services to farming, river and trucking industries," Moll noted. She added the company is a supporter of many community organizations including the Kenny Rogers Children's Center.
The company has been a part of the Sikeston area since 1972 and employs some 20 individuals locally.
The 2003 Business of the Year honor was presented by Jerry Pullen to Tom Richey, president of Health Facilities Rehabilitation Services. "Our winner provides physical, occupational and speech therapy services at three out-patient centers located in Sikeston, New Madrid and Portageville and to 31 nursing homes in Missouri, Arkansas and Arizona," said Pullen. Also he noted they provide therapy services for the VNA, Extended Family Staff Builders Home Advantage along with athletic trainers for five area schools and during each Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo provide therapists and trainers to work with the Justin Sports Medicine Program.
"They have shown that they are a business that gives back to the community in many ways," summed up Pullen.
In making the presentation for Civic Group of the Year, Steve Taylor described the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary as "a very busy bunch." He noted through their sponsorship of weekly bingo, the group is able to raise money for many worthwhile local projects and to support veterans programs.
"The Sikeston area is a better place because of their efforts," he added.
Tom Austin, the SACC Volunteer of the Year," was described by Ted Martin as a hard worker on the job and as a volunteer. He explained that Austin has been involved in a variety of SACC and community projects including Veteran's Park, the Cotton Carnival Parade, City of Flag program and others.
Mark Crocker with the Sikeston DPS presented Brenda Schiwitz with the plaque naming her Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. A 28-year veteran of the Scott County Sheriff's Department, Schiwitz has worked on all major investigations in the office and, Crocker said, was instrumental in the solving of a 1992 murder. Also he noted she saved a youth's life following an accidental shooting.
"After 28 years in the field of law enforcement and thousands of hours of training in every aspect of the Sheriff's office, Captain Schiwitz has maintained an enthusiasm for her chosen profession, which is rarely found in officers with half her tenure," said Crocker. "She exemplifies the image of the ideal deputy sheriff not only by her work and dedication but by a caring heart."
"This individual is not just a teacher. No she is much more. She is a leader who has worked very hard to improve the quality of education and the quality of life in our community," said Charlie Vickery as he introduced the 2003 Educator of the Year Carolyn Harris.
Vickery detailed Harris' background, noting she joined the Sikeston School System in 1979 as an eighth grade reading and English teacher. Over the years she has been active in MSTA and SCTA, Girl Scouts, Altrusa Club, Sikeston Community Choir and Smith Chapel United Methodist Church.
John Rowland, the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award was praised by presenter Greg Turnbow for his efforts on behalf of children. Turnbow noted Rowland has worked as a Little League coach and served a commissioner along with being an active member of the Sikeston Area YMCA.
"His dedication and commitment to make sure the youth of Sikeston and the surrounding area have the opportunity to succeed earned him this award," said Turnbow. "He is looking toward the future by ensuring the all the youth of this community have the opportunity to strive and thrive."
The evening ended with a moment of silence and a prayer for the troops serving in Iraq.