CHESTERTON | The Duneland Chamber of Commerce received updates from municipal leaders and honored a dozen community members during its State of the Chamber and Community Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, July 17.
CHESTERTON – More than 160 Chamber members, volunteers, municipal leaders and local residents gathered at Sand Creek Country Club on Wednesday for the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Chamber and Community Awards Luncheon. The event, sponsored in part by Ashley’s Jewelry and Sand Creek Country Club, provided an opportunity to hear from Chamber Board President Tracy Freeze, as well as receive updates from local Town Council members and honor a dozen local residents for their commitment to improving the Duneland community.
The event began with a welcome by the Chamber’s Executive Director Heather Ennis and a State of the Chamber Address by Tracy Freeze, the Chamber’s Board President. Freeze shared a series of statistics about the Chamber’s activity in 2013: “Our membership has grown 10% over this point last year, and our retention rate is nearly 95%. Duneland TODAY Magazine just published its largest issue, with more advertisers – and more positive feedback – than ever before. Attendance is up at all of our annual events, and the European Market has simply exploded. It’s a sold-out show with a 360% increase in Seasonal Merchants from last season. More and more members are using our ChamberMaster software to augment their web presence, and our Ambassador Committee is the largest and most vibrant to date.”
Following the State of the Chamber Address, municipal leaders Geof Benson of Beverly Shores, Jeff Freeze of Burns Harbor and Bernie Doyle provided updates on their respective communities. Benson shared his pride in Beverly Shores residents and Duneland Chamber members Rolling Stonebaker, who have created an extremely successful business in locations across the county, including Chesterton’s European Market. Burns Harbor Town Council Vice President Jeff Freeze spoke about many developments, including the town’s new emergency response system, the new Traditions apartment units and accompanying clubhouse in The Village, and the new cameras in all police vehicles. Chesterton Town Manager Bernie Doyle expressed his appreciation for the many partnerships and shared projects that have moved forward due to support from the Chamber and other community leaders – including the 49 corridor project, the relocation of Urschel Laboratories to Coffee Creek, and the overall elevation of the area to prominent site selectors.
Following these reports, the Community Awards portion of the event began with the presentation of the Community Improvement Award for Renovation to Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland. “As the economy recovers, it’s exciting to see new life breathed into projects it seemed would never get revitalized,” said Scott Mundell, the Chamber’s Board Vice President. “No project exemplifies this progress than the adventure at Seven Peaks Duneland Water Park.” Matthew Phair, General Manager of the Seven Peaks project, accepted the award on behalf of his company.
The Chamber awarded two Community Improvement Awards for New Construction – the first to Addison Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center, and the second to the Traditions apartment units (built by In Good Company). Tracy Freeze presented the first award to Addison Pointe’s Administrator Glenn Wagner, saying “The superior functionality and impressive aesthetic beauty of this building is enough to make any Chamber of Commerce – and local community - proud.” Co-owners Jonathan Hicks and Michael Sakich accepted the second award on behalf of their company In Good Company. Said Freeze, “The Traditions apartment buildings in Burns Harbor are beautiful, multifamily rental units constructed using green manufacturing techniques – and high-quality materials and furnishings that you’d expect to see in stand-alone homes.”
Three Putting Duneland on the Map awards were presented by John Marshall, the Chamber’s Executive Committee Member At-Large. All three were given to Duneland Community School coaches: Kevin Kinel (Duneland Swim Coach); and Jim Cavallo and Bob Kelly (Duneland Speech and Debate Coaches). “Our first recipient [Kinel] coached one student to the Olympic trials,” Marshall said, “and had two students make it to the finals in the Indiana Junior Olympics. He has been named Indiana Senior Coach of the Year four times, been awarded the Indiana High School Coach of the Year and was featured in March 2013 USA Swimming Magazine as one of the “Coaches you should know.” Marshall shared that Cavallo and Kelly “coached an estimated 1400 kids, with over 100 students qualifying to compete nationally. Their organization has competed in 42 consecutive National tournaments and won numerous team titles as well as individual awards.”
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented by Mary Fox, the Chamber Board’s Immediate Past President. Laura Layman accepted the honor on behalf of winner Duneland Business Initiative Group. “It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to create extraordinary community celebrations that will attract tourists and locals alike year after year,” said Fox as she presented the award.
Three Humanitarian of the Year Awards were presented by Jim Anton, the Chamber Board’s Treasurer. Bud Flick of the American Red Cross of Porter County was the first to be honored. Said Anton, “While [Flick’s] local contribution is impressive, his willingness to help with national disasters positions him as a leader on another scale entirely. He has responded to 10 national disasters and spent 236 days away from home serving the citizens of our country in disaster situations of all types.” Amber Hensell-Hicks of Frontline Foundation was the second recipient. “She has worked on substance abuse prevention programs with local churches,” said Anton, “and has taught students peer–resistance techniques to avoid peer-pressure to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco. She has created a caring, healing environment for many young adults that society had written off, and has gifted them with a place to interact and express themselves.” The final Humanitarian of the Year Award winner was Tim Rice of Lakeside Wealth Management Group. Anton shared the following: “His efforts have produced incredibly positive results, and his passion and skill for fundraising has helped not only Housing Opportunities, but many other organizations with which he has been affiliated.”
The Chamber’s Community Achievement Award was presented to Phil Baugher of the Duneland community’s library system. As he presented the award, Jim Anton shared his admiration for Baugher, saying that “He is an innovator who truly loves libraries and has spent his years in Duneland upgrading the programs, facilities and outreach of library services for all ages and interests. Our entire community is richer because Phil has lived and works among us. He is a joy & inspiration, and infuses every project he touches with energy and innovation.”
Ashley’s Jewelry Duneland Distinguished Woman Award was presented by Linda Ramsey, the 2011 honoree of this distinction. Lorelei Weimer of Indiana Dunes Tourism was selected as this year’s recipient. “I can’t say enough about her achievements,” said Ramsey. “I literally have pages her that I could share with you. She’s given our community its brand, rearranged her office to meet the needs of her strategic plan, and worked tirelessly to promote the county to attract tourists. She’s simply amazing.” Weimer was presented with the signature Duneland Distinguished Woman diamond necklace designed, created and donated by Ashley’s Jewelry.
To RSVP for any of the Chamber’s events, or to request information on membership, please call the Chamber office at (219) 926-5513, visit www.dunelandchamber.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.