While outgoing Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture President Heather Hilliard thanked volunteers for the hard-fought victories over the past year, the battle continues for this region and the fight is still going strong.
The good news we were successful in every one of those areas,” Hilliard said. “The bad news is, we cannot stop talking about our issues and educating our state leaders. These issues will continue, so we must be the ones who take charge and keep the discussions ongoing here in our community and in Austin. We must and will continue to work for the future of Matagorda County.”
Hilliard thanked the volunteers and board members with the Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture for their hard work during the past year.
“The questions and spirited discussions prove they care about the Chamber and its future, along with the future of Matagorda County,” Hilliard said.
Hilliard pointed back to last year’s Matagorda County Day in Austin. At that time, the county was able to voice its concerns about water rights with LCRA facing its sunset review, increases in the Texas Windstorm insurance rates, additional funding for education and teachers as well as seeking out ways to highlight the difficulties and needs in rural Texas.
“Our main message last year was jobs and paychecks,” Hilliard said. “Sounds simple, working for all of the citizens of our great county. I think simple works. With jobs and paychecks comes success. Success for small businesses like mine, and success for our families, our friends and our neighbors.”
Hilliard pointed out the chamber has worked closely with the Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation and Mike Ferdinand and Bay City Community Development Corporation and Jessica Russell as well as Palacios Economic Development Corporation and Pam Oliver throughout the year.
“We have had some great wins and also a few losses but more importantly we have moved this community into a great place for development,” Hilliard said. “I want the best for you, I want the best for this community, and I want the best for this Chamber.”
Incoming Chamber Chairman Aaron Hill stressed that this area needs voices to make this area heard in the coming year.
“In 2020 we will need people to make their voices heard, put their words into action, and pull together to focus our energies in ways that ensure the greatest outcomes for us all,” Hill said. “As the Chair of the largest business organization in Matagorda County, I pledge to you tonight that your 2020 Chamber will continue to work with all organizations and faithfully serve the businessmen and women of our community as we all strive to reach our greatest potential.
“Though at times we have differing opinions on the steps we take along the journey itself, our strength lies in, and our success depends on, our agreement on the destination,” Hill said. “The theme Ms. Hilliard introduced last year, “Jobs and Paychecks,” beautifully condensed the efforts of the Chamber and its members into two simple yet powerful words.
And as we continue that theme in 2020, I invite us all to take a moment to reflect on the sound business strategies, civic involvement, educational opportunities, and good old-fashioned hard work that it takes to create and sustain jobs, to develop and retain a qualified workforce and to cultivate an environment where paychecks are earned and reinvested within our local economy.”
Hill challenged the community to not rest on its laurels that were accomplished in the past year.
“It’s common to hear about new businesses large and small showing interest and making investments in Matagorda County,” Hill said. “It’s common to drive by new schools being built, or to try out a new restaurant, or to watch children play on new playground equipment, or to welcome new residents to our growing community, or to take a stroll around the square on new sidewalks on our way to another grand opening celebration. This year, your Chamber is dedicated to viewing the progress of yesterday and today not as a ceiling, but as a platform to launch new sustainable growth initiatives and build stronger businesses in 2020 and beyond.
“Second, I encourage all of us to support each other in good faith. As Texans, our business environment is second to none, and we can leverage that environment for the good of our entire County when we work together,” Hill said. “Let us never forget that what’s good for Palacios and Sargent and Matagorda and every other community in our county is good for all of us. When we work together, we grow together. When we encourage one another, we are all lifted up. And when we build bridges for one another, we walk across together.
“Third, I hope that you’ll renew your support for your Chamber board members as we continue our mission of promoting and advancing the interests of our business and agricultural communities,” Hill said. “I can speak for our Chamber board members and our chamber president and his staff when I say our doors and our minds are open. There is no idea too bold, no concern too small, and no critique to personal to warrant your chamber’s undivided attention.”
Matagorda Chamber Person of the Year
Christella Rodriguez with the Matagorda Area Chamber of Commerce introduced Teri Treadway as the person of the year for that organization.
“I am honored to introduce you to this year’s Person of the Year.
But before I do, allow me to share a few things about her. I will not announce all of the awards and recognitions she has received because I would need more than a day to name them,” Rodriguez said. “As a child, did you ever go to bed wishing or hoping for something only to wake up and have to be satisfied with just a dream. Or maybe as a young teen, you would dream about who you wanted to be, attending college, and dream of how you would want your future to turn out.
“How about those of us in this room tonight, as adults, how many times have we wanted to help our community, to do something good for people; maybe even those we don’t even know,” Rodriguez said. “If you think about those few sentences about this person, did you hear the clues that described them; words and phrases that like a blanket of love surround who they are:
· Children’s wishes and hopes –she makes so many come true
· Young teens dreaming about furthering their education, looking forward to what their futures will be –she’s been a part of so many of those dreams becoming real.
·She has helped so many communities; not just her own.
“Tonight this person is going to walk on this stage and accept a token of appreciation from us, they will shake hands, take some pictures and share an evening of fellowship with friends and family,” Rodriguez said. “This recipient will never really know just how much of an impact she has made. How many lives she has really touched and why she is being recognized for her achievements tonight;
· Hopes and Dreams she will never know made come true for so many children
· Countless young new futures and careers she had a part in starting
· Communities that will forever continue to grow because of her support and involvement.
“But with that same depth of love and respect I have for this person –I also want her to know this – You may never get to see the end of your giving,” Rodriguez said. “What’s more important is to know, that through your efforts and genuine love for people and your community, we get to see, hold, and share, what you helped grow, in all God’s Glory, for the rest of our lives.”
The Matagorda Area Chamber also bestowed a Legacy Award to Doris Lee Bell Moberley.
Sargent Area Chamber Person of the Year
The Sargent Area Chamber of Commerce President Ray Fessenden introduced his group’s Person of the Year Jane Geracci.
“Our Sargent Area Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year comes to us from Canada,” Fessenden said. “At a young age her family came to the States.”
Fessenden said their honoree is a member of the Sargent Chamber and a charter member of the Sargent Area Lions Club and has served as membership chair and is now the Lions Club’s PR spokesperson.
“She has been in Sargent since the early 90’s. She has been Sargent’s premier cook at many locations. Pier 57, Little Taste, The new Pier 57 and now has reached her goal as Proprietor of On The Corner Restaurant,” Fessenden said. “Her Volunteer efforts in the community have been ever on going. She asks no thanks and wishes to remain behind the scenes. She is always our go to person when we need help.
“She supplies all the paper goods for the Lions Pancake breakfast,” Fessenden said. “She donates the hot dogs and buns for Adopt A Beach twice a year. She at one time was the ambulance driver for the Sargent Fire Department. She furnished and served food at the Sargent Christmas in the Park. She donates a senior’s meal once a month that serves 20-25 people. She has been involved with the Lion’s Jubilee which had many different names over the past years, but she was always involved with this activity. This is just a few of the things she does for our community. As I said before if you need anything she is there for you.”