Fairfield Chamber of Commerce hands out annual awards

Fairfield Chamber of Commerce recognized three award winners during its annual dinner Thursday evening at Receptions Conference Center.

Kyle Himes of Sam’s Club in Springdale was named Volunteer of the Year; Michael Garland State Farm Agency collected the award for Business of the Year; and Alyssa Conley took Business Student of the Year honors.

Kert Radel, the chamber’s president and CEO, said Himes is “what you need in a chamber volunteer.”

“He volunteers his time through out the year in helping the chamber, such as the annual dinner,” Radel said. “He also takes part in as many networking opportunities as possible helping our staff in hosting the events. Kyle … believes in what the Fairfield Chamber is all about and promotes the chamber to other businesses during the course of the year.”

Himes said he was humbled to accept the award.

“As far as giving back to our community here in Fairfield, we at Sam’s Club, we pride ourselves at trying to do everything and anything we can to give back to the community,” he said. “The Fairfield Chamber is very special to me.”

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While accepting the accolade on behalf of the business, owner Michael Garland singled out his team, Heather Claspill, Linda Phelia and Mary Ann Keehan, asking them to stand and be recognized by the applauding award dinner crowd.

“I’ll be blunt. They do the work,” he said. “My name’s on the door and I love being with customers and helping them out … but they put in the hours and I’m so very proud of them.

The chamber also honored outgoing Chamber Board of Directors member Perry Richardson of Miami University Hamilton, who served the full term of nine years on the board, including two terms as its chairman.

Conley, a Fairfield High School student, was one among several students who participated in a business program concocted by the chamber’s education committee and Butler Tech instructor, Joni Bachelor, who teaches the Senior Business Academy at Fairfield High School.

Bachelor’s plan gives students a small stipend to start a business with instructions to return the original investment at the end of the project and show a profit or a loss.

The teams have four weeks to develop a marketing plan and operate the business, then close it out. Members of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce board of directors interviewed each participant individually to determine who emerged as the leader and did the most work on the team.

The chamber’s award to Conley included a $1,000 scholarship to pay for books and other items. Funds for the scholarship are raised by an event hosted by the Leadership Fairfield class.

Conley called the program “an awesome opportunity” for students.

“This project, it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort, and I know I appreciate it and the students who have gotten it before me have appreciated it just as much,” she said. “I mean, $1,000, it’s quite a bit of money to take off our shoulders.”

Conley said she plans to attend University of Cincinnati starting this fall to pursue a degree in communications.

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