The new president of the Seymour Chamber of Commerce found himself in the hot seat Thursday night during the organization’s 89th annual dinner and awards program.
Dan Robison, who took over the reins of the organization Monday, was peppered with questions from Seymour attorney Denise Connell during the event at Pewter Hall in Brownstown. Connell is chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors.
Some of the hard-hitting questions included, “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” to which Robison responded with “Chunky Monkey” from Ben and Jerry’s. He also was asked who his favorite rock band is, to which he answered Aerosmith.
Connell also asked Robison about his most recent spontaneous decision, which he said, with a laugh, was taking the role as president of the chamber.
The event was a time for the people and businesses of Seymour to be recognized for their contributions in the last year. The theme was the “Roaring ‘20s” with many guests dressing up in flashy flapper dresses and gangster suits.
It also is an opportunity for the chamber to highlight its achievements and honor local businesses, teachers and others who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for the community.
In 2019, the chamber added 29 new members to reach a total of 370. There also were 20 ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and the chamber showed growth across its social media platforms, reaching 2,700 followers across Facebook and Instagram.
This year’s Rising Star Award was shared by Seymour High School teachers Curt Schleibaum and Jeremy Wischmeier.
The pair received the honor for their involvements with Owl Manufacturing. The program, which is a student-run business, gives students the opportunity to gain experience working with and for clients by designing and manufacturing products.
Schleibaum thanked the community for its support of the program.
“As you all know, Seymour is a fantastic town, and it’s one I truly love,” he said. “The program of Owl Manufacturing would not be what it is without our industry partners and a town such as Seymour coming together like nothing I’ve ever seen in education before.”
Wischmeier said he is grateful to be a part of the program.
“Owl Manufacturing has provided our students with an amazing opportunity to push the envelope, to think outside of the box and push them out of their comfort zones,” he said. “They’re able to explore career opportunities and create an identity for themselves. It takes a village to raise a child, and I am humbled just to be a part of that village.”
The recipient of the Small Business of the Year award is Schneider Nursery.
Jill Glover said she and the whole Schneider Nursery team are appreciative of receiving the honor.
“Whether we are supplying trees for a new park, helping local businesses or homeowners spruce up their landscape or adding helpful plants to our beautiful, growing downtown, we are honored to be involved in the city of Seymour,” Glover said.
The Corporate Business of the Year award was presented to JCB.
Marvin Veatch, president and chief executive officer of JCB, accepted the award.
“As I reflect upon my team members’ community involvement over the years, I’m aware that JCB has been well represented in many of Seymour’s specific and non-profitable organizations, including the chamber,” he said.
Other awards given out during the event went to three teachers at Seymour Community Schools.
Sandra Mellencamp received the Elementary School Teacher of the Year award, while the Middle School Teacher of the Year is Matthew McCarthy, and Jessica Floyd is the High School Teacher of the Year.
Former Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman wrapped up the night by talking about his appreciation for being named the chamber’s Citizenship Award winner. Luedeman served 12 years as mayor, ending his third term in 2019.
He encouraged everyone to support their community.
“God put each and every one of us on this earth for a purpose, and we should use our individual talents to support the Seymour Chamber of Commerce and the city of Seymour,” Luedeman said.
Looking to the famous words of former President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” Luedeman challenged everyone in attendance.
“Ask not what your city or chamber can do for you, but what talent and skills you have to offer for your chamber and city,” he said.