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Recipients honored at chamber banquet

Several individuals were honored at this year’s annual Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce’s awards banquet held Saturday evening at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bonne Terre. The room was filled with a couple of hundred people who came out for the evening event.

Daily Journal Media Manager/Advertising Director Cody McGee named Amy Keller as this year’s Daily Journal Citizen of the Year. He started off saying this year’s recipient is a person who, in the past years, has gone far beyond what was or could have been expected in contributing to the quality of life in the community.

“This year’s Citizen of the Year is someone with a vision of a better place, a place where people help one another … where people care about their neighbors,” McGee said. “More important, this person has acted on her vision, and pulled many others along with her.”

McGee said the recipient cares not only about those close to her, but the community as a whole. “Caring is when you do a good deed for someone because it’s the right thing to do. When you care for someone you make a difference in the world with your kindness, and that is what this recipient has done.

“She has reached out to the community on many platforms in the past to help with numerous programs and groups,” said McGee. “Her caring has reached every aspect of her life, which can be seen through her work, as well as her community involvement.”

“By honoring Amy Keller today, it emphasizes that community service is important,” said McGee. “It may inspire others to take on community service.”

A surprised Keller took the podium and said for once she was really speechless. She added she wanted to sincerely thank everyone for the award.

“I wouldn’t be up here tonight without the support of my family, my husband and my kids,” said Keller. “If it wasn’t for such a great group of management and employees, I wouldn’t be up here today. I tell them each day we would be nothing without you.”

“The only thing I want to do is continue to be active in our community,” Keller tearfully said. “That is what we will continue to do for anybody who needs it. Thank you so much. This is a great honor.”

In other honors during the evening, Sean Malone presented Bonne Terre/Big River Fire Chief David Pratte with the KTJJ-KREI 110 Percent Award.

“As a very young child this man already had firefighting in his blood, racing through the town with a wagon carrying soap bottles of water,” said Malone. “He was saving the town from burning trash barrels. He started as a young man at 10 years old as an auxiliary firefighter at the Bonne Terre Fire Department.”

Malone said Pratte became a firefighter at 18-years-old and continued training to further his fire service education. Later he became an instructor, a lieutenant, and then took a position as chief at the Terre Du Lac Fire Department.

“It was during this time he was elected president of the Ozark Firefighters Association and this is a position he still holds today,” Malone said. “He also served as assistant chief of the Lake Timberline Fire Department and returned to the Big River Fire Protection District as a firefighter and served on the board of directors.”

Malone said a few years later he was appointed chief at Big River and still holds that position today, along with assuming the responsibility of chief of the Bonne Terre Fire Department.

Other awards were handed out at the ceremony. Jason Loughery presented Jason and Laura Higgins with the KFMO-B104 Business Leader of the Year Award and Sheryl Sieve presented Paul and Lila Williams with the Home Town Hero Award.

Dustin Kopp presented First State Community Bank with the Froggy 96 Elite Service Award. Sue Wilke and Patricia Murphy presented Sharo Shirshekan with the Bonne Terre Chamber Lifetime Hall of Fame Award.

The special chamber award went to St. Francois County Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins, and the St. Francois County Rotary Service Above Self Award went to Kathy Grogan.

In addition to the awards, the evening included the installation of the Board of Directors for 2018. For the New Year they have a new chamber president, Samantha McDowell, and returning vice-president Susan Mullins. Julie Pratte will continue as treasurer. Other board members remaining are Amy Keller, Bill Cotton, Brian Boyer, Marty Umfleet, Kevin Bess, Katie Bockman and Dave Bahr.

Also during the banquet a Jefferson City update was given by Rep. Mike Henderson, R-Bonne Terre. There was also a city update given by Bonne Terre City Administrator Jim Eaton and a North County Board of Education update by North County Board President Kasey Jenkins.

Daily Journal Media Manager/Advertising Director Cody McGee presents Amy Keller, owner of A1 Home Care, with this year’s Daily Journal Citizen of the Year award.</p><p class=

See more photos from the event at www.dailyjournalonline.com.” width=”800″ /> Daily Journal Media Manager/Advertising Director Cody McGee presents Amy Keller, owner of A1 Home Care, with this year’s Daily Journal Citizen of the Year award.

See more photos from the event at www.dailyjournalonline.com.

A large crowd normally turns out for the annual Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce’s awards banquet. The event is now scheduled for Feb. 8. 

A large crowd normally turns out for the annual Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce’s awards banquet. The event is now scheduled for Feb. 8. 

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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