The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce sold more than 200 tickets to their annual Dinner and Awards Celebration held Thursday evening, when a number of individuals and businesses were recognized and Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave spoke.
The theme of this year’s dinner was “Made in Greater Fort Scott,” and emphasized the variety of services and commerce available in the city and county.
“We are thankful to celebrate the businesses, individuals and our community that we have here in Fort Scott and Bourbon County,” chamber Executive Director Lindsay Madison said.
“Fort Scott has touched my heart deeply,” said Soave, who married his Fort Scott native wife in the city, and referred to his first visits to Fort Scott as an adventure as he became familiar with a smaller town.
Soave said he has heard people describe people from smaller towns as genuine and authentic. Although the city of Fort Scott has its own issues, as does every city, Soave said there is an authentic beauty that is innate in towns like Fort Scott, as well as attributes such as commitment, conviction, integrity, honor, decency, humility and hard work.
“Smaller communities in Kansas are sacred, and I have come to learn that,” Soave said, saying those communities are determined to never give up, but to thrive. “If we lose our small towns, we lose our identity…There is a quality of life in a smaller town that you will never get in a big city.”
Soave referenced the Kansas motto, ‘To the stars through difficulty,’ and said that is the mission of the state and Fort Scott, as they strive to grow the town through expanding the economy and increasing available jobs.
“We have to continue to attract more companies to these areas,” Soave said. “And when they know the inherent value that’s here—the goodness, the decency, the hard work, the resilience of the people—then they will invariably continue to choose areas like this.”
The chamber honored a number of businesses and individuals for that kind of investment they have made in Fort Scott.
Awards and recipients included Young Professional of the Year Bailey Lyons, the Community Spirit award given to the Fort Scott Good Ol’ Days board, the Agri-Business of the Year award presented to The Butcher Block, New Business of the Year given to Shiney Studios, Businessperson of the year Bill Michaud, Business of the Year given to Ward/Kraft, Mayor JoLynne Mitchell’s citizenship award given to Elizabeth Schafer, and the Keystone Award presented to Dick and Jan Hedges for their involvement in the community.
A number of businesses participated in the evening by providing live and silent auction items or sponsoring a table, including businesses such as Fort Scott Community College, the city of Fort Scott, Mercy Hospital, Cheney Witt Funeral Chapel, The Bunker, Briggs AutoGroup and a number of others including banks, restaurants and other businesses.