CRANE — Bill Konya, executive director of Indiana’s Office of Rural and Community Affairs, on Thursday night told a crowd movers and shakers that Daviess County is “absolutely doing the right thing,” in attracting growth and industry.
At the annual banquet for the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau and the Daviess County Economic Development held at WestGate Academy, several community members were honored for going above and beyond.
In a special bicentennial-themed night, three honorees were given the prestigious Hagel Award. Chamber of Commerce Board President Melody Brunson presented the awards to Terri Kelso and Don Spillman, along with Washington Mayor Joe Wellman. All three had long lists of accomplishments, but most recently worked tirelessly in planning and executing the City of Washington’s 2016 yearlong bicentennial celebration.
Dewayne Shake, president of the Visitors Bureau said, “They have spearheaded a yearlong event that no one will ever match. We had six community concerts and the biggest parade ever held on Main Street.”
Arthur R. Boddy Legacy Award
The coveted Arthur R. Boddy Legacy Award went to Steve Myers. The Boddy Award, according to Ron Arnold, executive director of the DCEDC and Foundation, was named for a trusted mentor who always encouraged him to “think a little bigger,” and taught him that one can never give back enough for the good of the community.
Emcee Dan Murrie, who presented the Boddy Award, said Myers reflected all the qualities of the award. He called Myers a “true leader,” and a “person who has always acted in the best interest of the organization and not for any particular self-serving cause.”
Recipients of the Boddy Award must demonstrate a proven record of selfless giving and advancing the community, Arnold said.
Business of the Year
DLC Media Inc., was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Year. Owner Dave Crooks came to Washington in 1993 as general manager and co-owner of three radio stations. At the end of 1999, he sold his interest in WWBL, and then in 2001 purchased WAMW AM and FM, and transformed those stations into successful businesses.
He has grown from three employees to nine locally.
In 2013, he and his manager survived a direct hit from the tornado that hit Washington, broadcasting live in an event that locals will not soon forget. The company remodeled and rebuilt what was destroyed, and after increasing WAMW’s market share, his company has been on a roll.
Crooks expanded DLC Media to purchase WAXI in 2012, and then in September purchased WAKO in Lawrenceville, Illinois, and just last month agreed to purchase four more stations in the Terre Haute and Brazil, Indiana, areas.
After the transactions are all complete, Crooks will employ 25 at four locations.
Named for the late Lucille Dillon, the Tourism Award went this year to the Washington Knights of Columbus.
The club’s Treasure Hunt Jackpot has drawn thousands of visitors to Washington’s Main Street in 2016, with tourists now coming from Missouri, Alabama, Michigan, and all over the Midwest.
Shake said in his remarks in bestowing the award, “People are planning their weekends around this. Locals are not leaving town. This defines tourism.
“Restaurants from Vincennes, to Loogootee, to Montgomery, and all over Washington have lines out the doors on Saturday nights after the drawing. Shops and restaurants are busy and we are keeping commerce here at home.”
The jackpots have been drawing crowds of more than 7,000 for several weeks now. This Saturday, a record $1.232 million will be up for grabs.
Shake said that Washington is not only known now for its Zeller brothers and the place where the Black Buggy used to be, but the place where they are giving away $1 million.
Randy Emmons, a K of C member, said in accepting the tourism award that the club has given $109,000 back to community projects since Oct. 1 from its proceeds.
Konya speaks highly of community
Konya said he is now a part of history because he now works for a lieutenant governor who is governor-elect, and a governor who is United States vice president-elect.
He believes Indiana is in a good place, and that Daviess County has “good bones to build on.”
“Ron Arnold and his crew, the city, the county working together. These are things that employers want. They want to partner with communities who are willing to make the investment,” Konya said.
Economic development depends on a community’s ability to “be nimble, be able to change, be able to adapt and be able to overcome,” he said.
Konya praised Arnold for his ability to build relationships, and said his OCRA office has $30 million in grants for communities with visions and business plans.
He said encouragingly, “You have to be focused on making yourselves relevant in the 21st Century. And, we will be there to partner with you.”