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Chamber award recipients honored at gala

Gratitude and a little bit of humor prevailed during Thursday’s 2020 Chamber Awards Gala.

The eight recipients of the individual awards expressed gratitude to their family, friends, co-workers and to the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce during the ceremony, which took place at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino.

A couple of them acknowledged that the recipients didn’t contribute to the community for the sake of being recognized with an award.

“They’re doing what they love doing,” said Frank Zerr, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, in his video acceptance speech. “People work in this community knowing that what they do helps others in the community and I believe we don’t really do it for the recognition.”

Gary Nolley, who received the Outstanding Citizen award, echoed that sentiment later on.

“We do what we do so we can make a difference in our community in our own way,” he said.

Nolley also announced that earlier that day, he learned the Blue River Cross Country Course, which he created and is the director, was selected to host the 2021 NCAA Div. 3 regional championships, the second time that Shelbyville will be the host.

Julia Hamblen, the recipient of the Shining Star award, said she was “beyond honored” to be receiving the award.

She said she was known in the community as “the 4-H girl or the FFA” girl, and she wore those titles proudly.

“These organizations have allowed me to step out of my comfort zone to try new things and excel in leadership through different contests and activities, and work on the scale of public speaking, where I now compete at local, state and national levels.”

In a moment of levity, she was followed with Nolley’s award.

After being introduced, Nolley thanked the chamber for the award but jokingly said he did not thank them for having to follow an award-winning speaker such as Hamblen, drawing laughter from the crowd.

In another humorous moment, the chamber presented Golden Pineapple Customer Service winner Sandy Leffler with a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke, revealing that she had given up the drink for Lent.

The two winners who work in local school systems thanked their schools.

Golden Apple Outstanding Educator winner Sara Roberts acknowledged Triton Central Middle School principal Bobby Thompson and Northwestern Consolidated superintendent Chris Hoke for their leadership.

And Cindy Dunham, winner of the Pay It Forward award, who volunteers at Loper Elementary, thanked the staff for nominating her.

“I do encourage whoever can to go to a school and volunteer,” she said. “It is so much fun to help those students and the teachers get some stuff done.”

The John A. Hartnett Sr. Business Person winner, Terry Morgan, said being recognized by his hometown was “quite an honor.”

“Anyone who knows me will know that community and a sense of belonging to a community means an awful lot to me,” he said.

But it was Greg Gerline who might have been the biggest winner of the night. The ceremony opened with Gerline receiving the Dick Kitchen Volunteer of the Year award.

And once the individual awards, which had been announced in advance, were handed out, the ceremony turned to the three awards that hadn’t been revealed.

Shelby County Pantry Pals won the non-profit award winner, an organization that Gerline helped start as a member of the Shelbyville Rotary Club.

“What started on a scratch piece at a rotary club meeting, about 10 years ago, and now we’re serving thousands of people a year, is pretty rewarding, pretty cool,” he said in accepting the latter award.

The other non-profit nominees were the Flat Rock River YMCA Camp and Shelby County Players.

Brammer and Yeend Professional Corp., which provides tax accounting, payroll and consulting services, took home the small business award.

Rob Yeend said one of the nice things about being a small firm was getting to know the clients well.

“My main goal for Brammer and Yeend is to continue to grow our business and strive to be seen as a strong business leader in Shelby County,” he said in the video.

Runnebohm Realty and Seniors Helping Seniors were the other two nominees.

Shelbyville Central Schools won the large business award.

The district, which has more than 4,100 students and 530 employees, aims to provide a “well-rounded education” with the support in place to prepare students for after high school, assistant superintendent Kathleen Miltz said.

“People have a tendency to believe that teaching is something easy to do,” she said in the video.

“It’s not, and it takes an extraordinary amount of time and effort and preparation. I would love for people to know how truly dedicated they are to the success of their kids.”

Gayle Wiley, president of the school board, said the preschool that opened at the start of the school year had been a vision for more than 10 years. She thanked the board, both current and former administrators, and preschool staff members for making that vision become a reality.

Bunge North America and Duke Energy were the other two nominees.

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