On Thursday night, Main Street Keokuk Inc., the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce, Keokuk Economic Development Corporation and Keokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau partnered to present the 29th annual Spirit of Keokuk Awards.
Susan Dunek emceed the event and began the presentation by talking about the volunteers that made the entire event possible and all of the people who worked so hard and were recognized on Thursday night for their efforts.
Before the awards were given out representatives from each of the groups spoke about the success each of them has had over the past year.
Mike Beaird spoke on behalf of the Tourism Bureau and highlighted the Geode Festival and Eagles Days and the amount of visitors they brought to Keokuk. He also mentioned RAGBRAI and the hopes the Bureau has for it.
KEDC’s presenter, Andrea Rogers, talked about the hope for the future and the theme for the group, which this year is ‘stronger’. This includes the hope for a stronger economy through KEDC’s partnerships with local businesses.
Josh Kirchner represented Main Street Keokuk, talking about how from small to major projects, there has been a lot of change and success in downtown Keokuk. He highlighted the projects being done by property and small business owners and the positive impact they are having on the community.
Finally, Amy Conlee spoke for the Chamber, saying they had a busy and successful 2018. Through their partnerships with over 180 local businesses, they were able to continue promoting Keokuk as a great place to work and live. The Chamber was even able to host 20 networking events including Legislative Luncheons, Live After 5 and Women Inspiring Women.
Here are the five recipients of the Spirit of Keokuk Awards and what their nomination forms said:
“An exceptional role model, a great leader whose commitment to making Keokuk better is seen and felt all over town.”
Dr. Tom Hakes
“Our nominee saw a need and did something about it. Not seeking recognition or thanks, he was rewarded in an unexpected way, with the blessing of witnessing the excitement and joy on the faces of children upon receiving their own bed.”
“This Spirit of Keokuk Award winner is known by the entire community through his business, his many affiliations and his often behind the scenes donation of time…It is our great pleasure to publically recognize and thank him for his many years of guidance, sage insight and dedication to improving the quality of life in this place that matters.”
Katherine Braggs and Denise Estrada from the Hope Center
“The Hope Center has spent decades providing clothes, furniture and other household items, at no cost, to those that need them immediately due to tragedy…It takes the commitment of someone very special to make the magic happen, or in the case of The Hope Center and Project Christmas, a couple of special someones.”
“Not only does this man’s free time go to others build a home, but he also supports the growth and education of our youth. He has worked closely with the high school industrial tech program to help students actually rehab a house with help from local contractors.”
Each individual had different reasons for their nominations, but the overarching theme was because of their ability to represent the City of Keokuk with pride and truly embody the spirit of the Power City.
There were also four new awards given out for the first time:
Brian Carroll from the Chamber presented the Community Pride Award to Keokuk Contractors
“The logo for the recipient business for this first year of the Community Pride Award can be seen throughout the community… This year’s recipient of the Community Pride Award rises to the top and everyone sees the community pride here in Keokuk.”
Earl Walrath of the Tourism Bureau gave Attraction of the Year to the 30th Display of the City of Christmas.
“It has become a multi-generational tradition, so it includes a lot of people, again, that is great for Keokuk…He (Joe) has the passion and, I’ll tell you, the imagination to continue to build the display on a regular basis. It’s Iowa’s best right now and they’ll continue to make it even better.
Industry of the Year was given to Seither and Cherry by Rogers.
“The KEDC Industry of the Year is to highlight businesses who see the bigger picture, care for our town and work to make Keokuk a stronger economy…Thank you for being a part of the Keokuk landscape, we really appreciate it.”
And Catherine Worden from Main Street Keokuk Inc. gave the Making a Difference in the District Award to Ginny Henson and Lost Canvas.
“Ginny has the heart and soul of a community advocate. Her ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude compels her to be involved in community events and activities. She generously donates her time, talent and resources to fundraisers to benefit downtown revitalization efforts.”
All of the individuals and businesses were highlighted for their commitment to not only the city of Keokuk, but also the life of the community and its residents.