The Chamber in Hays, Kansas is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Annual Chamber Banquet awards.
Eight awards were given to businesses, organizations, and individuals who provided significant contributions to the Hays area before and throughout 2021.
Becky Kiser, news reporter for Hays Post and Eagle Radio, was the emcee for the evening.
The 2022 Annual Chamber Awards Banquet ceremony began with the Vyve Broadband Rising Star Award, recognizing a young professional for leadership and service within their profession, the community, and overall chamber participation.
The nominator for this individual stated, “His charisma is far more than just skin deep, revealing a man who lives with purpose and who truly cares about his family, his friends, and his community.”
Nathan Legleiter, vice president of Golden Belt Bank, was recognized as the winner.
The eyeSMILE Vision + Dental Helping Hands Award was the second award presented. The award was created to honor a nonprofit organization or individual whose outstanding work improves the quality of life for residents in the Hays area.
The first individual recipient of this award was Linda Mills, executive director of First Call for Help. She has devoted much of her career to serving non-profits. Linda recently led the way on the new First Step Housing program, an aggressive project to help clients break the cycle of poverty.
Each year, The Chamber is proud to acknowledge a respected woman in the business community. The Nex-Tech Wireless Businesswoman of the Year Award recipient must have strong business accomplishments and a history of community service, while assisting others in reaching their full leadership potential.
The Chamber was proud to recognize Judy Parks, regional retail manager and vice president with Sunflower Bank as this year’s recipient.
Her nominator said of Judy “She sees the potential in people and allows them to grow even if it is not a strength of her own. She is always there to support her teams no matter what the need is.”
A new award was the Grow Hays Robert E. Schmidt Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This award was presented to an entrepreneur who has demonstrated the ability to create and grow their business while adding value to our community.
The Chamber was proud to recognize Mario and Karen Gutierrez, owners of Gutierrez Cocina Mexicana and Trio Tap House as the receipients. For 37 years, they have quietly built a very successful business. Mario and Karen provided a work environment that was friendly, open and supportive of staff, also giving back to their community and supporting the efforts of other business owners and civic groups.
The Nex-Tech Citizen of the Year Award recognized a dedicated citizen for service to the people and the city of Hays for the past year of bettering our community.
The 2022 award recipient’s passion is life care planning and making a difference in the lives of families in Hays and Western Kansas. Randy Clinkscales, president of Clinkscales Elder Law Practice, PA. received the award. As an upstanding man, he has a fierce passion for helping those dealing with aging issues. His goal in life is to help families with not only with their current needs, but also help them plan for the future.
A second new award added this year was the Werth Wealth Management Member Investor of the Year Award. Consideration for this award was given to members who support The Chamber through the investment of capital and time of volunteers, including service to the Board of Directors, Ambassadors, Hays Young Professionals, and committees, as well as attending chamber events throughout the year.
Connecting with other businesses and organizations to address community concerns is important to this year’s winner. It gave The Chamber great pleasure to present HaysMed the award.
Another award honored the success of a local business with the City of Hays Small Business Achievement Award. This award honors a long-standing member and small business that has had a significant impact on the community and contributed to the overall success of Hays.
This year’s winner was Commercial Builders. Since 1995, President Gary Weatherbee has been known for being “On Target, On Time, and On Budget." The nominator wrote, “More than the long list of commercial buildings Gary and team have created… his generosity is second to none.”
The Chamber’s highest honor presented was the Golden Belt Bank Hall of Fame Award recognizing years of unselfish service to the Hays community. This person has demonstrated many years of excellence in their business or profession and has a long history of civic involvement.
In 2019, the award winner, Fr. Earl Befort, Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, celebrated his 50th Jubilee as a priest. It would be nearly impossible to count how many babies he has baptized, couples he has married, and individuals and families he has comforted in their times of need.