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Chamber Award Winners Recognized

The winners of the Chamber’s annual awards were announced at the Chamber’s Annual Celebration on Saturday, January 25th. More information on the winners can be found in the posts below.

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR – Bob Ownes – “The Sound Guy”

SPIRIT OF WAMEGO AWARD – Merl Page – longtime Wamego City Manager

IMPACT AWARD – Bryan & Wymetta Newell – Riley Construction

Congratulations to these deserving award winners and thank you for all that you do in our community!

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CITIZEN OF THE YEAR – Bob Owens “The Sound Guy”

Bob Owens exemplifies volunteerism in the community and proves that a talented and dedicated volunteer is invaluable.

In Wamego we often quote Chris Hupe when speaking about the power of volunteerism. As Chris likes to say, Wamego is a community of “net-givers”, those who give more than they take and do so to benefit the greater cause. Our Citizen of the Year most definitely fits into that category. He is a talented and dedicated volunteer who also fosters volunteerism in others. He is kind and patient, always in a good mood and never too busy to mentor those around him. And finally, he is dependable, someone who can be counted on both when the lights are brightest and when no one is watching. Our Citizen of the Year is affectionately known as “The Sound Guy”, Bob Owens.

Bob is a longtime keystone of the Columbian Theatre. He has devoted countless volunteer hours to running sound and providing technical assistance to nearly every production in the past 10 years. Bob’s dedication to his craft requires a significant investment of time and talent in the days and weeks leading up to a production, and typically results in him being the last one out the door after a show. The fruits of Bob’s labor are seen, and heard, by attendees at Columbian productions who visit Wamego from near and far. In addition to all of the Columbian shows, Bob plays a key role in major community fundraisers, scheduled events at the Columbian and Oz Museum, Wamego High School productions, and our showcase festivals. The Chamber is the beneficiary of Bob’s talent and dedication as he spends long days out in the Kansas weather running entertainment stages at Tulip Festival and OZtoberFest.

Bob, we thank you and Kim for being such wonderful representatives of Wamego. Your choice to invest your time and talent into our community sets an example we can all strive to follow. We are honored to present you with the Citizen of the Year award.

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SPIRIT OF WAMGO AWARD – Merl Page

Long-time Wamego City Manager Merl Page has been an integral part Wamego’s growth and development for many years. Merl retired in 2019.

As you look back over the time that Merl served as Wamego’s City Manager, you can’t help but marvel at the sheer number of projects, initiatives, events and partnerships that the City contributed to the success of.

The new Aquatic Center, construction of the Rec Complex, Caterpillar expansions, additional business growth in the industrial park, the downtown streetscape, the Kansas River access ramp, hosting Kansas Sampler (twice!), the Wamego Convention & Visitors Bureau, showcase events like Tulip Festival, Celebrate Freedom in Wamego and         OZtoberFest, park improvement throughout the community, the Industrial Commerce Route, the Water Tower painting project… and the list goes on!

All of this was done while expertly managing the many varying perspectives and opinions of community partners, residents and elected officials. Merl has long been a regular at ribbon cuttings as a Chamber Ambassador… but what many folks don’t know is the amount of work he did behind the scenes to ensure a positive business culture in our community.

Merl’s peers have recognized his professionalism with multiple awards, including the American Public Power Association’s “Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award” for his management of Wamego utilities. Merl, of course, always accepts these awards with complete humility.

The Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce would like to recognize Merl’s vision, stewardship and dedication to our community. The Chamber’s Spirit of Wamego Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a strong history of service to the community. We recognize their dedication to developing a positive culture and quality of life for Wamego. We also recognize their track record of empowering peers, colleagues and future generations to do the same.  Now in its 5th year, past award recipients are Charlie White, Rosemary Crilly, Dr. Bill Ditto and Norman Hupe. Merl, on behalf of the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, thank you for all that you have done. We wish you health and happiness in retirement and with your family as “Grand Murray”.

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IMPACT AWARD – Bryan & Wymetta Newell, Riley Construction

Bryan and Wymetta Newell’s impact on the community stretches from youth soccer and making technical education fun for 4th graders, to leading Peer Chamber projects and installing iconic Oz attractions.

The ability to do hard work is a valuable leadership characteristic, and one our Impact Award winners showcase frequently when leading the charge on numerous community programs and projects. Need someone to demonstrate technical skills to 4th graders as part of a Classroom to Career construction project… Riley Construction was there. Leading Wamego High School Peer Chamber projects at renovate the old ball fields and install the Storywalk at the Rec Complex… Riley Construction was there. Creating the Oz Museum’s new facade and installing the new Yellow Brick Road sign… Riley Construction was there. Remodeling the Chamber’s entryway into a functional and attractive Visitor Center… of course, Riley Construction was there, hard at work.

Wymetta and Bryan Newell of Riley Construction have truly made an impact on our community. By making time to engage young people and teaching lifelong skills, they are investing in more than just their business… they are investing in Wamego’s future. And while we’ve highlighted all of these Chamber and Oz-related projects, we shouldn’t forget the number of youth in our community positively impacted by the Newell’s tireless leadership of Crossroads Soccer.

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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 https://www.visitwamego.com/july4th

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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

SPIRIT OF WAMEGO AWARD – Norman Hupe

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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SPIRIT OF WAMEGO AWARD – Norman Hupe

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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