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Chamber of Commerce annual dinner honors award-winners, marks organization’s 100th year

Outstanding President Award givento Bret Hamlin
Tom Bontrager of Locey CPA, president of Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, addresses the gathering. 
Matt Scheske makes a toast at Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner. 
Kari Hatt, executive director for Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce. In background is Tom Duke of WBET, master of ceremonies for the event. 
Gabe Alvez gives a brief talks after receiving the award for Community Service.
Kara and Greg Williams, co-owners of Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders, display their Customer Service award at the annual chamber of commerce dinner. Photos by Dennis Volkert

By Dennis Volkert

Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual dinner and awards ceremony Nov. 9 at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts. 
This is the 100th year of Sturgis chamber of commerce. 
The ceremony included presentation of awards, recognition of outgoing board members, a welcome to new chamber members and a message from board president Tom Bontrager of Locey CPA. 
Also featured were segments from master of ceremonies Tom Duke, one a historic look-back at 1923, including both local and world events; and a humor-laced vision-of-the-future segment, “Top Stories of 2123.”  
Partial list of awards and nominees for the 2023 ceremony: 
Community Service Award: Gabe Alvez, Southern Michigan Bank & Trust.
Ambassador of the Year: Misti Gardner, Farmers State Bank. Recipient is chosen by peers on Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. 
Phoenix Award: The Parlor (co-owners Rita and Gabe Taylor). Also nominated: Thurston Woods Village (CEO Tim Still) and Southern Michigan Bank & Trust (SVP: Matt Moses, VP Loan Commercial Loan Officer: Gabe Alvez, VP Retail Business Development Manager: Tina Cronkhite)
Customer Service Award: Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders (co-owners: Kara and Greg Williams). Also nominated: El Taco Loco (co-owners Daniel and Noemi Lopez) and Willer’s Shoes (co-owners Todd Maynard and Elizabeth Denman).
Outstanding President Award: Bret Hamlin.
Chamber Participation Award: Scott Leonard, American Legion post 76.
Also at the ceremony, Kari Hatt, executive director of SACC, announced “Sturgis Fest” 2024 will have a Disney theme. 

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