The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's annual gala event drew 650 to the Lied Center Friday night to hear about this year's accomplishments and upcoming goals.
Lawrence's population has grown by 1,000 persons each year over the past 50 years, and its economic vitality and quality of life has improved steadily during that time, Dan Watkins, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's newest leader, said Friday night.
The city faces the same challenges in the future as it has in the past -- "to preserve and improve the quality of life," said Watkins, the new chairman of the Chamber's board of directors, at the Chamber's annual meeting.
During the coming year the Chamber will continue partnerships with the Kansas Innovation Center, the city, county and Kansas University and support a bond issue this fall for a second high school and construction of the South Lawrence Trafficway and the Eastern Parkway, he said.
The year will open doors to the city's past when the Union Pacific depot in North Lawrence becomes the home for the United Way of Douglas County and a visitor's center.
The depot could be a symbol for Lawrence itself, Watkins said, "preserving the best of the past, building for the future."
About 650 business and community leaders attended the Chamber's 71st Annual Meeting in the Lied Center at KU, munching on hors d'oeuvres and greeting friends and acquaintances.
Unlike annual meetings in prior years when the audience was entertained by a Chamber official in bunny suits or a clown, this year's program spotlighted 39 Lawrence businesses and individuals for their accomplishments and contributions to the community.
Their efforts help explain "why our economy is healthy and our quality of life in Lawrence and Douglas County is so highly regarded," Watkins said.
Businesses honored in the video presentation were:
- For job creation -- Carrousel Printwear, Cottonwood Inc., E&E Display, FMC, Garage Door Group, Kinedyne Corp., Knight Enterprises, Minuteman Press, Omnicad/Scanning America and Oread Labs.
- For increase in sales growth -- Design, Analysis and Research Corp., ReMAX and R&D Publications.
- Partners in promotion: for help in bringing new jobs and business to Lawrence -- Eldridge Hotel, KPL, Kay Kuhlmann, Lawrence Track Club, Serenata Farms and Southwestern Bell.
- For contributions to health and human service organizations -- Bank IV, FMC, Hallmark Cards, Quaker Oats and Sallie Mae.
- For contributions to the arts and culture -- Kief's Audio Visual, Payless Shoe Source, Paradise Cafe, Reeder and Co. and Southwestern Bell Foundation.
- For contributions to education and youth activities -- Connecting Point, Gene Fritzel Construction and University National Bank, KLWN, McDonald's and Mercantile Bank.
- For historic and environmental preservation -- Lawrence Journal-World, Rumsey Funeral Home, Wal-Mart and Warren McElwain Mortuary.
These annual awards were announced:
Jim Owens was awarded the Citizen of the Years Award. The award is presented to a retired or semi-retired individual who has given a lifetime of service to Lawrence and Douglas County.
Owens, the only Lawrence resident to serve as mayor, School Board president and Chamber president, was greeted with a standing ovation when he came forward to accept his award.
Dist. Judge Jean Shepherd was awarded the Buford M. Watson Jr. Public Service Award for a public employee who exemplifies service to the community.
The Wally Galluzzi Chamber Volunteer Award went to Frank Male, vice president and co-owner of Lawrence Landscape. The award recognizes a Chamber member for tireless effort to the Chamber.
The 1993-94 task force and committee chair persons also were recognized: Elaine Kautsch, Steve Johnson, Ralph Gage, Myles Schachter, Bill Pence, Tom Koenig, Shirley Martin-Smith, Judith McFadden, Clarice Patchen, Ed Meyen, Cathy Collins, Annette Hughes, Dixie Gillaspie, David Ambler, Jane Bateman, Dennis Spratt, John Bush, Brian Woolley, Bob Johnson Sr. and Hunter Cole.
Also recognized were the 1993-94 officers and members of the board of directors: John Elmore, Vickie Randel, Marilyn Bittenbender, David Ambler, Joe Bauman, Smitty Belcher, Ron Johnson, Steve Johnson, Mike Kautsch, Marty Kennedy, Jim Martin, Tom Murray, Elaine Nelson, John Pendleton, Dan Simons, Todd Sutherland and Bob Treanor.
Retiring members of the board of directors were introduced: David Ambler, Joe Baker, Jane Bateman, John Bush, David Evans, Bob Martin, Richard Orchard, Andy Ramirez and Brian Woolley.
The 1994-95 incoming board members also were recognized: Patricia Anderson, Al Hack Jr., Larissa Johns, Frank Male, Howard Mossberg, Earl Reineman, Pat Slabaugh, Scott Tessier, Pete Wiklund and Dale Willey.