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The Madison County Chamber of Commerce has made "Making Madison County a great place to live, work and play" its motto. During the annual banquet, Jan. 9, at Victoria Vineyards Winery, the chamber chose three community members who embody this motto.

Audrey Unruh was chosen for the "Live" Award.

"Our Live Award winner has been a resident of Fredericktown for 53 years," Ashley Bales said. "She worked for the Fredericktown R-I School District for 44 years, retiring in 2013 which is quite the accomplishment. She is active in the Madison County Retired School Personnel group, the Community Beautification Committee, the chamber of commerce, the Higdon Christian Church and the Fredericktown Fillies Red Hat Society."

Bales continued saying Unruh has been contributing columns to the Democrat News for many, many years. 

"You can truly see her dedication to her home and community and that she strives to make it a better place to live for all," Bales said. "This is why we are presenting Ms. Audrey Unruh with this year's Live Award. Congratulations, Audrey, it is well deserved."

Fredericktown City Administrator James Settle was chosen for the "Work" Award. 

"He has always gone above and beyond to make the city a great place to work and be worked with," Ashley Baudendistel, Fredericktown utility billing clerk, said. "As administrator he is always putting the communities needs first and anytime a community organization needs the city's assistance, he makes them a priority."

Baudendistel said Settle is always working to help the city grow and reaching out to businesses he thinks would be a great fit for the community.

"As a boss he leads by example, never asking an employee to do something he wouldn't do himself," Baudendistel said. "All of these things show the dedication he has to help this community grow and be great and that is why we are presenting this year's Work Award to Mr. James Settle. Congratulations you have earned it."

Domino's Manager Andrew Nipper was chosen for the "Play" Award. 

Sue Cofer began by saying the individual chosen for the "Play" Award is someone who always goes above and beyond for the community. She said instead of "Where's Waldo" it should be "Where's Andrew Nipper."

"Andrew is at every function there is possible and he does so much for the community," Cofer said. "We want to say that we definitely appreciate what he does because he is from the Potosi area. He's not even from Fredericktown. Andrew we love you and we appreciate everything you do for us and believe me you do a lot."

Madison County Chamber of Commerce President Tessa Rehkop said they love to recognize individuals like Unruh, Settle and Nipper who go above and beyond to make Madison County a great place to live, work and play. She said it is so hard to pick just three people because there are so many individuals in the community who care so much and work hard to make the community great. 

"The purpose of the chamber banquet is to celebrate all the chamber's accomplishments and events from the previous year," Rehkop said. "Also, to celebrate what all of our members have done. Without them none of the chamber events would be possible as they contribute so much time and resources." 

Rehkop said attendance for the banquet continues to grow every year with this year having about 200 people attend. 

Like the previous year, the chamber had table sponsorships where companies and organizations competed with their table decorations.

"As always everyone went all out with their table decorations this year," Rehkop said. "There was a real terrarium with bulbs in it from the Madison County Title Office. A cute golf course table complete with golf cart from Beaver Valley Golf Club."

The winning table was decorated by Missouri Job Center and featured an American theme complete with colonial wine and heritage glass jars. Statler Realty and Melvin Mills Roofing tied for second place. 

"It is so much fun coming together with our membership to celebrate everything we've accomplished," Rehkop said. "Everyone has so much fun decorating the tables and what an amazing venue we have now with Victoria Vineyards Winery." 

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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