By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Six local businesses, two individuals and Chase County Schools received recognition Monday for their contributions to the Imperial community.
Imperial Chamber President Merrilyn Leibbrandt presented the recognition awards during a Chamber after-hours reception Tuesday, May 11, at Harchelroad Motors’ new collision and restoration center.
The annual awards are presented as part of Imperial’s business retention and expansion program. Partners in the program include the Imperial Chamber of Commerce and the City of Imperial.
Randy Vlasin and Bill Sullivan received recognition for their efforts with Vlasin being named to the Chamber’s Hall of Fame and Sullivan being selected as this year’s Friend of the Chamber.
Vlasin, who serves as the Chamber’s first vice-president, was recognized for his service to the community and Chamber.
His experiences as a former ag teacher in Imperial, his leadership skills, business background and his role as hospital foundation director represent an asset to the Chamber.
He also joins his wife and son in operating Holiday Farms LLC, which includes a greenhouse and liquor store on the Miracle Mile.
Sullivan’s efforts with the operation of St. Isidore’s Gift & Thrift store in Imperial on behalf of Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska earned him recognition as this year’s Friend of the Chamber.
In addition, Sullivan is known for his pro-life work, teaching religion and bible classes and volunteering in other local capacities.
Rising Star Award: This award recognizes those Chamber businesses in operation for less than five years who have brought new or improved products or services to the area.
This year, 509 Broadway won the award for their clothing boutique and coffee shop.
The business opened on March 1, 2013 at exactly 5:09 p.m.
Both sides of the business have expanded since opening.
The coffee shop serves a wide variety of coffees, lattes and frappuccinos, Italian sodas, donuts and bagels. They will also begin serving breakfast burritos in the near future.
The boutique offers name-brand clothing and accessories and has expanded its line with Miss Me jeans, Corral Boots and Spanx products. They also offer custom sweatshirts, pajamas and raglan tees.
The business is owned by Tiffany Reeves and Jacci Brown.
They also offer interior design ideas through Stephanie Rau and can provide furniture and other home furnishings.
Best Store Front/Most Improved Business Property Award: This award recognizes Chamber businesses that have made substantial improvements to their store front or business property in the last 12-18 months.
Harchelroad Motors earned this award with their new Collision and Restoration Center located on East Hwy. 6 west of the Alco building.
The new facility opened in June 2013 and now includes 10 employees who use state-of-the-art technology and equipment for body repair and restoration.
This includes auto body
frame and unibody straight-ening machines and computerized automotive paint matching using eco-friendly paints in a high-tech paint booth.
Customer Service Award: This award recognizes Chamber businesses that excel in their customer service and going the extra mile to make out-of-town shoppers and visitors feel welcome.
This year’s award goes to the staff at Pinnacle Bank.
Pinnacle opened in August, 2007 after purchasing Farmers & Merchants Bank.
The Dinsdale family that owns the Pinnacle Bank holding company opened their first bank in 1938. They now own banks in eight states with more than 130 locations, including 58 banks in Nebraska.
Pinnacle Bank of Imperial employs nine full-time and two part-time staff members, along with a high school intern. The local branch is among the leading branches to participate in their management trainee program for loan officers.
The bank’s staff is known for their customer service within the bank and their community service outside the bank.
The Good Neighbor Award: This award recognizes owners and/or employees of Chamber businesses who contribute their time and talents to the community through volunteerism.
This year’s winner is Jim and Linda Pirog, owners of the Balcony House.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the bed & breakfast that was saved from demolition by the Pirogs’ restoration efforts.
With the many guests that pass through their doors, Pirogs serve as ambassadors for the community, the area and the state.
They are known for their fine hospitality, great breakfasts and an always-full cookie jar.
Linda serves on the county tourism board and the couple works hard to promote Imperial and Chase County.
Best Foot Forward Award: This award is reserved for a Chamber business that has done something special in the past year.
This year’s award goes to Chad and Amy Leibbrandt, owners of Adams Lumber in Imperial and Grant.
When they bought the lumber yard, they envisioned the need for a design center.
In September 2012, they hired Christine Clevenger to design kitchen and bathrooms. They installed a new showroom so customers could see the work and products.
In August 2013, Ashley Harchelroad was added to the design staff due to increasing demand.
Whether it’s a new kitchen or bathroom, flooring or remodelings, Adams Lumber can take a project from start to finish.
Partners in Success Award: This award recognized two or more Chamber members for working together to strengthen their operations and improving the community.
This year’s winners are Imperial Country Ford and Chase County Schools.
On April 25, 2013, Country Ford sponsored their “Drive 4 UR School” which helped raise money for the school’s activity fund.
That day, 202 people experienced a test drive in a Ford vehicle, with each test drive earning $20 for the school.
The Future Business Leaders of America promoted the event during that day’s junior high track meet in Imperial. That also earned the chapter a portion of the funds raised that day.
Since 2007, Ford has donated $18 million to schools across the country.
Following the award presentations, Chamber members heard a brief presentation on the need to bring a full-service family restaurant back to Imperial.
Sid Harchelroad and Dave Fulton shared ideas on further steps necessary to explore the idea.
They suggested an owner-ship coalition could be created to provide funding for a building and equipment necessary for a restaurant.
People with ideas are urged to share them with Harchelroad, Fulton or Community Development Director Jason Tuller.