Chamber award winners recognized last week included, from left, Greg and Lori Owens, Owens’ True Value; Tyler Pribbeno, Young Professional; Jill Moline, Imperial Super Foods, Jack Schnieder, Good Neighbor; Deb Hayes, Imperial EMS; Matt Musgrove, Chamber president; Roxane Miller, Imperial EMS, Craig Loeffler, Imperial EMS and IVFD; Merrilyn Leibbrandt, Fine Things Jewelry and Gifts; Marcy Nesbitt, M & M’s Natural Jaz; and Marlea Thompson and Sharon Clark, McNair Agency. Winners not pictured include Holly Jantz and Steve Smith. (Johnson Publications photo)
Chamber honors business stars, professionals
Imperial’s Chamber of Commerce paid recognition to a number of businesses and individuals during their Business Retention and Expansion Awards program.
The program was held Wednesday evening, March 15.
The awards program was originally started in 2009 and honors businesses and individuals for their contributions to the business community in Imperial.
This year, award categories included Young Professional, Rising Star, Small Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year, Outstanding Customer Service, Good Neighbor, Tried and True and Helping Hand.
The Chamber also recognized two long-time members who retired and/or closed their businesses this past year.
Those two recipients included Merrilyn Leibbrandt of Fine Things Jewelry and Gifts and Steve Smith of Steve’s Video and Entertainment.
After 17 years of serving customers at the store located at 601 Broadway, Leibbrandt made the decision to retire and close her store.
She was a devoted Chamber member, including two years as president and many years on the Chamber’s promotion committee.
Smith operated Steve’s Video and Entertainment for 20-plus years at 621 Broadway.
For years, Smith greeted movie lovers with a smile and wonderful service.
Health issues forced Smith to close his store last year.
This year’s Young Professional Award went to Tyler Pribbeno.
The 2003 CCS graduated earned his law degree from the University of Nebraska Law School after graduating from Chadron State.
He returned to Imperial and joined the Joel E. Burke law office and is now a partner in Burke & Pribbeno LLP.
He also serves as a guardian ad litem for children and seniors and is an active member of the Imperial Community Foundation Fund.
Holly Jantz, the new owner of The Added Touch, was recognized as the Rising Star.
The Imperial native purchased the business last year and has utilized her creativity to offer new and exciting services.
She will be also be adding a live dove service for ceremonies.
M & M’s Natural Jaz, owned and operated by Marcy and Mike Nesbitt, was selected as this year’s Small Business of the Year.
The store has served Imperial and the area for more than 20 years with quality sandwiches, health supplements and consulting and fine baking.
The store also offers a downstairs meeting room for small private gatherings, business and organization meetings.
Imperial Super Foods earned recognition as this year’s Large Business of the Year.
Jill and Brad Moline completed a major overhaul and expansion of their grocery store last year.
They continue to offer deli selections for lunch and provide catering for a variety of events.
Owens’ True Value, owned by Greg and Lori Owens, received the Outstanding Customer Service Award.
The nomination noted it’s nearly impossible for a customer to make it to the back of the store without someone from the store greeting the customer and asking how they can be of assistance.
They are always friendly and will guide customers to the products they need for the project they have in mind.
Jack Schnieder was selected for this year’s Good Neighbor Award.
He has served on the Chamber board for the past three years and coordinates the Chamber’s Chili Cook-off.
Last summer’s Smokin’ on Broadway barbecue event was the brainchild of Schnieder. It was very successful in its first year and will be held again this year on Saturday, July 1.
Tried and True
The McNair Agency was recognized at the winner of the Tried and True Award.
Pat, Alex and Sam McNair and their helpful crew offer quality insurance services to Imperial and the area.
The long-time business is represented in many community activities and events from their annual cook-out at the school during the football season to coaching youth ball leagues to serving on the Chase County fair board.
The Chamber recognized both the Imperial EMS and the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department as this year’s Helping Hand Award winner.
The nomination noted the volunteer personnel on both these squads can never be thanked enough for their dedication to the Imperial area.
“They show up in time and are 100 percent committed to Imperial,” the nomination read.
Their dedication has become even more visible in recent weeks with numerous calls taking both squads to fire and accident scenes.
Each of the winners received an award to recognize them for their service to the Chamber and community from Chamber President Matt Musgrove.