Chamber Accepting Annual Award Nominations

Nominations are being accepted for 2019 Impact and Citizen of the Year Awards through November 22, 2019. Nomination forms are available at the Chamber office or by clicking below.

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Wamego Hosts Annual OZtoberFest

A wet start to the day did nothing to slow down OZtoberFest 2019 on October 5th. The sun came out and visitors from near and far celebrated all things Oz in Wamego. Vendors, entertainment the the car show filled the streets while patrons got a look at rare items in the Oz Museum and heard from special Oz guests in the Columbian Theatre. The Oz characters helped unveil the new Yellow Brick Road sign and the day wrapped up with an amazing performance of The Wizard of Oz at the Columbian Theatre… flying monkeys included!

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Celebrate Freedom in Wamego this 4th of July

Join us for a day of celebration and family fun capped off with the incredible Wamego Fireworks Show! Learn more and plan your day at

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Chamber Announces Annual Award Winners

The Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce announced Impact, Citizen of the Year, and Spirit of Wamego Award winners at the Chamber’s Annual Celebration on January 26, 2019. These deserving award recipients were recognized for their lasting impacts on the Wamego community. Additional information about each award winner and a video highlighting their achievements can be viewed in the posts below.

CITIZENS OF THE YEAR – Dave & Janette Mize


IMPACT AWARD – Wamego Health Center for the addition of the Walk-In Clinic and the recent $11M expansion and renovation project.

IMPACT AWARD – Jan Eichman & Stacie Eichem for their leadership of the Indoor Pool Fundraising Committee.

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CITIZENS OF THE YEAR – David & Janette Mize

David and Janette Mize were recognized as the CITIZENS OF THE YEAR  for their many years of giving back to the community through business ventures, leadership of the Kansas Shrine Bowl, and numerous volunteer and charity endeavors.

Whether at work, volunteering for a worthy cause, or serving our community, this couple truly operates as a winning team. Let’s reflect for a moment on just a few of the many lasting impacts made by our Citizens of the Year, Dave and Janette Mize.

They have both been mentors at Wamego High School and were Boy Scout leaders when their sons, David Eric and Adam, were young.

For years, Dave was a volunteer firefighter for the City of Wamego.

Community organizations and civic clubs, including the Masons, Lions, Jaycees, and Portia Club have benefitted from their leadership and involvement.

Dave and Janette assist with all parts of the Community Food Bank and make deliveries for Meals on Wheels throughout the year.

They are both very active in the Methodist Church, participating in weekly services, women’s groups, youth projects as well as missions and kitchen events.  Dave is currently the chair of the Hospitality Committee which seems natural for him as he’s always welcoming people.  Janette is the chair of the Missions committee.  Dave is a trained UMCOR volunteer, assisting with hurricane relief efforts in Corpus Christi Texas, as well as several other relief efforts this year.

They are both active in the Community Council of Churches of which Janette is currently serving as chair.  They play an active role in the Wamego’s Christmas Bureau with Janette serving on the committee for many years and Dave helping in any way needed, including set up for distribution and delivery to families. Dave and Janette also both volunteer at the Wamego Thrift Shop.

Dave has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Janette reads to residents at Heritage Park and assists with additional needs as a volunteer.

Dave is an Army veteran and serves with the American Legion. He regularly stands flag lines honoring those who have served in our armed forces. Dave and Janette both assist with Random Acts of Patriotism as well as welcoming home the Honor Flights.

Dave was instrumental in the construction of the Wamego Area Veterans Memorial. From digging ditches for the wiring and lines to laying block, he was always ready to go whenever a hand was needed.

Many of you are familiar with Dave’s volunteer parking at the 4th of July fireworks.  He also led parking efforts when Kansas Sampler came to town.  He saw the need, offered to help, met with the City personnel, organized all the parking lots, recruited volunteers and personally manned the event. Janette also volunteered as a tent boss for both years of Kansas Sampler in Wamego.  She attended many planning meetings helped with multiple components of the festival beyond just her tent duties.

Dave and Janette came to Wamego as the new owners of the Gambles Hardware and Appliance store in 1973.

In 1981 Dave became the Director of the Kansas Shrine Bowl and oversaw the continual growth of the organization until his retirement in December of 2012. His 31 years of leadership and service earned a well-deserved spot in the Kansas Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame. Janette played an integral role during those many Shrine Bowl years as Office Secretary.

This year’s Citizens of the Year, Dave and Janette Mize, are truly a team,

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The 2019 SPIRIT OF WAMEGO AWARD was awarded posthumously to Norman Hupe in recognition of his numerous contributions to the Wamego community and the long-lasting impacts of his actions.

When looking through Chamber and event pictures for the recipient of this year’s Spirit of Wamego award make sure you’re looking in the back row of group shots, and in the margins of the event photos.  That’s the most likely place you’ll find Norman Hupe.

Norman was the definition of servant leader.  Proud of his community and willing to take on any role needed, while never seeking recognition for his work or financial contributions.  But like the previous recipients of this award Charlie White, Rosemary Crilly, and Bill Ditto you cant write the story of this community without him.

Norman Hupe was a City Commissioner, and a two term Wamego Mayor.  Norman was a member of the Wamego Volunteer Fire Department, he served on the Zoning Board, he was committee chair for Troop 92 of the Boy Scouts.  He served as an Elder for the First Presbyterian Church.  He was a former Citizen of the Year.

From a Chamber of Commerce perspective Norman was a cornerstone of two of our largest annual events.  He was an essential member in the formative years of the Ag Night celebration and continued to contribute and volunteer to that event every year since.

And of course, Norman Hupe was a charter member of the Wamego Pyro Crew.  He was there from the first hand lit shells in the park to the spectacle now that brings 60k plus to our community.  That’s where I met Norman.  And that’s where he pushed me to the front of my first Pyro Crew photo so he could take his usual spot in the back row.

Norman was incredibly proud of his family, and rightfully so.  Perhaps the biggest contribution to Wamego was Norman and Jeanette creating a legacy of servant leadership in their own family that has continued to be modeled by their children and grandchildren.

Last February, the Hupe family suddenly lost Norman well before his time.  His loss was felt across the entire community.  The line at his visitation and attendance at his funeral was a testament to all those who’s lives were impacted by Norman, and how many of us were lucky enough to have met him and call him a friend.

Business owner, volunteer, philanthropist, servant, father, and friend.

Norman Hupe helped define Wamego Magic.  It is our privilege  to award the family of Norman Hupe the Spirit of Wamego Award.

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IMPACT AWARD – Wamego Health Center

Wamego Health Center was recognized with an IMPACT AWARD for the addition of the Walk-in Clinic and the recent $11M expansion and renovation project.

The presence of a hospital in Wamego for more than 100 years has been a significant asset to our community and the surrounding area. In 1915, a hospital opened in Dr. Simonton’s newly remodeled home on West 6th Street.  While it was much needed, it was intended to be temporary and in 1919 JT Genn promised to donate $10,000 towards the construction of a new hospital provided the community could match his donation.  The community succeeded in raising more than $11,000 resulting in the Genn Hospital being built a few blocks to the west in 1921.

By the early 1960’s, plans were in the works for a larger, more modern hospital. In May 1969, the new Wamego City Hospital was dedicated and opened on the current Wamego Health Center site.  The new hospital cost an estimated $500,000 with half of it coming from the Genn-Clary Endowment Fund.  The facility had approximately 60 employees and featured twenty-six beds and four bassinets.

Over the ensuing years, renovations to the facility and expansion of the services offered to the community have occurred. However, in the past few years we have seen the next great step forward at Wamego Health Center. In November 2016 the new Walk-In Clinic was opened. The clinic had an immediate impact on our community and in 2018 served 4,550 patients.

Early 2018 saw the doors open at Heritage House on the Wamego Health Center campus. Heritage House is an outpatient home healing environment for seniors in our community experiencing depression, loss or anxiety. It is the area’s only senior behavioral health service and serves not just Wamego, but the surrounding communities in our region.

Finally, in August 2018, the ribbon was cut on Wamego Health Center’s $11 Million expansion and renovation project. The project saw over 9,000 square feet of new space added and significant renovations to more than 14,000 square feet of existing space. Every department in the facility was impacted by the project.

Upon arrival at Wamego Health Center, visitors immediately notice the improvements and expansion of the main entrance, emergency entrance and the parking lot. Once inside, expanded and improved facilities include those for Laboratory Services, Emergency Services, Surgical Services, the Wamego Family Clinic and Walk-In Clinic, as well as Heartland Rehabilitation’s physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy services.

With this award, we recognize the progressive growth of Wamego Health Center and the vital role it plays in our community

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IMPACT AWARD – Jan Eichman & Stacie Eichem

Jan Eichman & Stacie Eichem were recognized for their leadership of the Indoor Pool Fundraising Committee.

While many small, rural Kansas communities are desperate for economic growth and positive evolution, Wamego has long led the way as a tightly‐woven community proud of its traditional and agricultural roots, while simultaneously and quite relentlessly eager to evolve as a progressive leader in community enhancement.

We value looking to the future and assessing what can be done to make life even better for those who live, work and play here. Toward that effort, some of our citizens banded together several years ago to identify amenities that our residents felt were lacking. It was this process that identified the need and desire for what seemed like a pipe‐dream at the time…a new aquatic center with an indoor pool facility. Over the course of several years, many people worked diligently through the process of turning that pipe‐dream into a real possibility.

While the initial phases of the project were slow and steady, the final stage came quickly and with a shockingly short timeline…this was the make‐it or break‐it stage for the indoor pool portion of the project. In order to erect the indoor pool facility alongside construction of the approved outdoor facility, the City Commissioners stated in the fall of 2017 that they would require a minimum of $250,000 in pledged donations from the community before giving the green light. On top of that, the pledges needed to be made by the end of that year! How could this possibly get done?

Enter Jan Eichman & Stacie Eichem who soon became the front faces of this new fundraising effort. Both were inexperienced in fundraising of this caliber but were determined. Quickly a committee was formed of equally inexperienced fundraisers. Committee members recall looking around at the first meeting and wondering how to accomplish their huge goal in such a short amount of time. But true to the personality and characteristics of the committee leaders, Jan and Stacie excitedly announced that they had already raised $75,000. Hello momentum!

Under Jan and Stacie’s leadership, the committee navigated six weeks of fundraising efforts to reach the commissioners’ goal and then some. Final pledges tallied over $300,000 and the project was approved for construction!

While both Jan and Stacie have served the Wamego Community in many capacities over the years, they have typically been in quieter and more under‐the‐radar roles. Here they truly displayed tremendous courage in taking on this time‐pressured challenge; making presentations, inspiring community members to support the project, and diligently pushing the committee to the finish line. Their leadership and hard work toward this accomplishment will leaves a long‐lasting positive on our community for years to come.

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Wamego CVB Wins TIAK Marketing Awards

Multiple Wamego Convention & Visitors Bureau projects won Travel Industry Association of Kansas (TIAK) marketing awards at the 2018 TIAK Conference in October.

  • Celebrate Freedom in Wamego Website – 1st Place – Small Budget Online Media
  • Totos Around Town – 1st Place – Small Budget Community Awareness
  • Totos Around Town – People’s Choice Award (selected by conference attendees from all 57 state-wide marketing award entries)

The Celebrate Freedom in Wamego Website can be found at More information on the Totos Around Town project, including photos, maps and details about the artists, can be found at Congratulations to all of the community partners who put significant time, energy and resources into making these projects successful!

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Wamego Businesses Join Classroom to Career Partnership

The 2018-2019 Classroom-to-Career Partnership program kicked off on September 13th at the Bank of the Flint Hills Hwy 24 location with over 60 teachers and business representatives in attendance. The program strengthens the relationship between local schools and the business community and gets students thinking about possible careers at an early age by engaging businesses with 4th grade classes in a partnership that runs the full school year. Each 4th grade class is sponsored by a business and regular interactions are facilitated both in and outside of the classroom.

“This partnership builds on the strong connections between the Wamego business community and our schools. We’re proud to add Classroom-to-Career to existing programs like Peer Chamber and Youth Entrepreneurs that provide great opportunities for students at many levels,” said Daryn Soldan, Executive Director of the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce. Jack Allston, Executive Director of the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation highlighted the workforce benefits of the partnership, by stating that “the program will have long-term work understanding benefits for the youth going through this partnership.” 

With the support and sponsorship of the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation and the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce, this year’s program has expanded to include the six 4th grade classes at West Elementary in Wamego and the 4th grade class at Westmoreland Elementary. Additional 4th grade classes taking part in the program include those in USD 383 – Manhattan, Flint Hills Christian School, and Manhattan Catholic School. Classroom-to-Career Partnership sponsoring businesses in Wamego and Westmoreland are Bank of the Flint Hills, Caterpillar, Kaw Valley State Bank, Riley Construction, Wamego Health Center, WTC, the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation.

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