SIDNEY -- The Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce celebrated achievements and challenges at its annual awards banquet Saturday.

The highlight of the night was the presentation of awards. Each year, the Cheyenne County Chamber honors businesses and individuals who have had an exceptional impact on the Cheyenne County community. 

Awards were presented for New Business of the Year (Safe at Home), Outstanding Customer Service (Lazy S Ranch), Citizen of the Year (Gordy Stitt), the Business Revitalization Award  (Highby Outdoors), Community Impact Award (Leadership Cheyenne County Class of 2022), E.K. Yanney Award (Wildeflower Bakery in Lodgepole),  Clem Schumacher presented the Edna Anderson award to Kathy Script, Friend of Tourism Award (Old Settlers Day), Ambassador of the Year (Norma Perkins ), Community Leader Award (Jason Petik, SRMC CEO), Heroes Among Us (Sidney Park Project committee), Supporter of the Year (Sam & Louie's Pizzeria/ Stan and Melissa Norgard), and the Ralph Olson Board Member of the Year (Clint Norman).

The New Business of the Year award is awarded to a new business that has had a positive impact on the community in 2022. Safe at Home has provided a much needed service in our county enabling people to stay in their homes longer. They provide care for ill and dying family members at home and allow family caregivers an opportunity for a much needed break. Since starting their businesses with one employee they have now grown to 9 full time employees.

The Outstanding Customer Service Award was established to honor an individual or business who has provided exceptional customer service in our community. Lazy S Ranch is nestled in the bluffs off of Highway 30 near Sunol. They are known for their barn style event center, friendly farm animals, and welcoming staff. Neal and Angela are incredibly accommodating and easy to work with, ensuring that the experience at Lazy S Ranch is stress-free.

The Citizen of The Year Award is given to honor an individual who has made an impact throughout the area. Gordy Stitt has and continues to be a positive role model in our community. Gordy gets to see many of us during some of the hardest and most challenging times of our lives, all while providing support and guidance. Outside of his role at Gehrig-Stitt Chapel and Cremation, he is always supporting the organizations in our communities, especially those for youth! Gordy provides time and financial support to help our communities invest in their future.

The Business Revitalization Award is given to a business that has made considerable improvements or renovations to their business in 2022. This business moved to a new building and continued to operate one of the businesses that was already located their. Highby Outdoors has spent countless hours working to improve their building by adding new windows, awnings, and several interior modifications at their location on 10th and Jackson. Highby Outdoors has continued to operate the coffee shop that was already located in their building, all while bringing in new products for customers.

The Community Impact Award is given to an organization, entity or developer that is instrumental in assisting business and industry development in the community. This group of leaders in Cheyenne County were instrumental in organizing a non-profit open house in 2022. This open house brought awareness to the many non-profit organizations in Cheyenne County and what they provide for our communities. This also gave individuals a chance to donate money to these organizations if they wanted to. It is difficult to know just how much this group impacted our community because it was so wide spread.

The E.K. Yanney Award was presented to The Wildeflour Baking Co. with the 2022 E.K. Yanney Award. Benjamin and Amy has transformed a historical building in Lodgepole to provide a bakery and coffee shop. Just like E.K. Yanney, Amy is progressive in her business ideas offering cake building classes, new pastry flavors each week, and custom made orders.

E.K. Yanney was a banker from Lodgepole who was active in economic development in Cheyenne County. Yanney was very involved in the community and supported several organizations throughout the county.

The Community Leader Award is annually awarded to an organization, entity, or individual who is instrumental in assisting business and industry development in the community. This year's Community Leader Award is proudly presented to Jason Petik.

Petik is a long-time member of Sidney and continues to invest time and resources to providing growth opportunities and jobs for Cheyenne County. With his knowledge and leadership, Sidney Regional Medical Center continues to upgrade facilities, grow employment opportunities, and support Cheyenne County in a variety of different ways.

The 2022 Heroes Among Us Award goes to a group of individuals that donated hundreds of hours, worked relentlessly, and had a “we will not quit” attitude to provide a handicap accessible park for Cheyenne County. The Sidney Park Project team raised $711,000 through private donations and grants to provide a safe, accessible place for our youth of all ages and abilities to play.

This group faced many challenges such as increased material prices but never gave up on their dream of making this playground a reality. Cheyenne County is incredibly blessed by the generosity of this group, as we have the only Handicap Accessible playground in the Panhandle.

The 2022 Cheyenne County Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award goes to Norma Perkins! Norma is a huge supporter of the chamber and Chamber Businesses. She attends many new business ribbon cuttings and events that the Chamber hosts.

The Supporter of the Year Award is given annually to a person, group, or business who has demonstrated outstanding support of the Chamber and our mission. This year’s Supporter of the Year award was earned by Sam and Louie’s home of Boss City Brewing for their outstanding support of Chamber events and Chamber members in the past year. Stan and Melissa have been a driving force for positive change in the community and continually look for ways to partner with other businesses.

The Ralph Olson Board Member of the Year Award is given annually to a board member who has gone above and beyond to serve the Chamber in honor of former board member Ralph Olson who exemplified what it means to be involved and community-minded. The 2022 Ralph Olson Board Member of the Year goes to Clint Norman. Norman has served on the Cheyenne County Chamber board since 2016 and has also been serving as the Chamber Treasurer. He also has been the Finance committee Chair and has helped with the Glow Golf Tournament.

In addition to recognitions of businesses and community leaders, the night included three "Escape Room" activities when attendees were encouraged to learn Cheyenne County history through game clues. 

Outgoing Chamber Board chairman Regina Narjes said she is completing her second term as chairman, and 2023 will be her final term on the Chamber Board. She thanked the board members for their commitment and work.

"The Chamber annual banquet is always one of my favorite events," she said.

Kendra Mitchell is the 2023 chairman of the Chamber Board.  Mitchell is also the Cheyenne County Tourism Director.

"She's dedicated. She's a hard worker," Narjes said.

The 2023 Chamber board includes Regina Narjes (21st Century Equipment), Emily Thomas (21st Century Equipment), Laura Narjes (UNL 4-H Extension Office), Diadra Eddy (Hitchin' Post Productions), Emily Johnson (Sidney Regional Medical Center), Mandy Sandoval (Viaero Wireless), Josh Hansen (Nebraska Department of Labor), Becky Rowan (Adams Industries), Kiersten Richards (Beans and Steams Coffee House), Elaina Paige Kantor (Wolffpak Realty), Ted Sintler (Platte Valley Bank), Megan Price (Adams Auto & Leasing) and Kendra Mitchell (Cheyenne County Tourism).