Monday, June 13, 2011

Press Release-Chamber Gives Recognition to Organization and Community Leaders

The Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce gave special recognition to several Chamber and community leaders Friday evening during its 38th Annual Meeting and Celebration of Business. The event was held at the Chamber of Commerce Community Stage.

Whelan Leadership Award: Three years ago the Chamber added a new award to recognize the graduates of Havasu Leadership Development. This program, a few years ago dubbed the Jewel in the Chamber’s Crown, has graduated 237 local business persons and residents from a 9-month training program and was named in honor of Judy and the late Bob Whelan who always have supported this and other Chamber programs. Graduates are encouraged to get involved in Lake Havasu City – in their churches, schools, places of business, and in the many non profit and charitable organizations within our borders. Our graduates have not disappointed us and this year’s Whelan Leadership Awardee is someone who takes leadership skills quietly, but also seriously. Tom Otero, owner of Mohave Electric, is a graduate from the class of 2007 is no stranger to the Chamber. He has been an active volunteer through the Ambassador Committee for a number of years. He is a small business owner who has helped with Winterfest since 2001. An animal lover, he is an active volunteer with the Western Area Humane Society and during his Leadership year, led the class project of building Friendship Park at the animal shelter.

Ambassador of the Year: This year’s Ambassador of the Year is Jennifer Whetten, partner in Whettrods Ski Rentals. Jennifer is someone who really enjoys the role of Ambassador and is one of the first every time to step to the plate when needed. She participates in nearly every ribbon cutting and grand opening, and was a huge part of the success of the recent National Association of Chamber Ambassadors held here in May. Jennifer has an infectious smile and she encounters. She’s great at recruiting new members and she and her husband both have become regular volunteers at Chamber functions.

Havasu Booster: The criteria for this award, which we brought back into the mix this year at the membership’s request, is for someone – an individual, a business or an organization, who has boosted the morale and community development of Lake Havasu City during the past year. This year’s recipient is the Havasu Foundation for Higher Education. This tireless group of visionaries decided what Havasu needed was an organization that would not only drive new and future economic development, but also enhance the higher educational opportunities for Havasu and our surrounding communities. This group has formed an amazing partnership with every educational and economic stakeholder in the area and they’ve been working for several years to achieve a goal of bringing a four year university campus in our town. They’ve courted several institutions of higher learning but during these 12 months focused on Arizona State University.

Community Development and Improvement: This award recognizes the development or improvement of real property in Lake Havasu City. This year’s recipient is McDonald’s of Havasu. For years McDonald’s conducted business in a building built in the 1980’s, much loved by locals and visitors alike. The past 30 years took its toll on the building, and new technological advancements along with a fresh look and better opportunities to serve customers were needed. Even in the midst of these difficult economic times, the owner believed in Lake Havasu City so much that he made a big reinvestment in our community. Owner Abe Martinez razed the old building and built a brand new, state of the art place where Ronald, the Grimace and the Hamburgler have a new home and where new generations of our kids and adults can enjoy a Big Mac or an Egg McMuffin.

Chamber Business of the Year: This award recognizes a business that has made an outstanding contribution to the growth and stability of the Chamber of Commerce in the past 12 months. This year’s recipient, Mohave State Bank, has done all that, and then some. Team members from this business are involved in the Ambassador Committee, in our Leadership program and on our Board. This business was also the first to purchase “Just Like Living in Paradise” tee shirts to wear on Chamber Fridays. A longtime partner in providing financial guidance to the Chamber, the Chamber Business of the Year sets a shining example in business and community for us all. This year’s Business of the Year is Mohave State Bank.

Volunteer of the Year: Mike Schuler, co-owner of Sunbelt Appliance and Repair, is the recipient. Mike exemplifies the meaning of volunteer, working tirelessly to assist the chamber without seeking any recognition. He always says yes which helps the Chamber be successful, but never asks for anything in return. Mike truly understands the philosophy of giving back – there are days when we know he needs to be running his own business but he still makes time to work on a chamber project including using his own company’s vehicle and fuel to haul props for an event around town; or to help us orient one of the 100 new members we gained this year; or to co-chair a national conference. Mike is a former board member and a recent inductee as a lifetime member of the National Association of Chamber Ambassadors.

Citizen of the Year: The Citizen of the Year is a very special award as it honors an individual who makes an outstanding contribution to the community in service and leadership. In order for the Citizen to be properly recognized by all of Lake Havasu City, the recipient is honored by becoming the Grand Marshall of the London Days Parade in October. This year’s awardee is Dr. Bill Ullery. One of our recipient’s nominators said he has worked tirelessly to achieve a dream, and his passion and tenacity have made it real. Another mentioned the thousands of hours he has spent in making something wonderful happen for Havasu, using his own resources and his own time when frankly, he could be laying by the pool enjoying his retirement. Yet another said he is one of the few that understand the economic impact and overall awareness a 4-year university will bring to Lake Havasu City. No matter the opposition, he has been been at the forefront, championing our cause, and staking a claim for our community. Due to his diligence, ASU at Lake Havasu is now a reality.
For details or more information on this or any other Chamber of Commerce program, please call 928-855-4115, or email

(2011 Otero Award)

Volunteer of the Year Tom Otero received congratulations from 2010-2011 Chair Elect Nancy Darrow.

(2011 awards group)

Recipients of the 2010-2011 Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Business Awards are from left: Dr. Bill Ullery, Citizen of the Year; Steve Greeley, Nello Ruscitti, both representing Havasu Foundation for Higher Education, Havasu Booster Award; Brian Riley, Mohave State Bank, Chamber Business of the Year; Mike Schuler, Sunbelt Appliance and Repair, Chamber Volunteer of the Year; Stacie Wester, McDonald’s of Havasu, Community Development and Improvement Award; Jennifer Whetten, Whettrods Ski Rentals, Ambassador of the Year.