San Angelo Chamber Announces the 2020 Citizen of the Year
SAN ANGELO, TX — General Ronnie and Maria Hawkins, 2019’s recipients of the Citizen of the Year award, made the presentation for this year’s honor. It was Lynn Shipley, the store manager, officially known as the Unit Manager, of the original H-E-B on Sherwood Way at Arden Road.
Shipley was recognized for his long record of service to the community known by many as the organizer of the annual Feast of Sharing and his volunteer efforts to enhance the annual San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. His efforts are particularly recognized with the stock show and its signature event, the Premium Sale, that this year will surpass $1 million in revenue with all of the money going to the young men and women who raised their animals each year for show.
The recognition of Shipley occurred during the annual banquet of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, a semi-formal gala held to recognize volunteers and leaders of the business organization Thursday night.
Outgoing San Angelo Chamber Board President Sheryl Pfluger led the organization and the business community to a record-breaking $216 million in new capital investment in the community in 2019. Pfluger credited the hard work by the City of San Angelo Development Corporation (COSA-DC) headed by Guy Andrews and the Chamber’s VP of Economic Development Michael Looney.
Pfluger recognized the Conventions and Visitors Bureau headed by Diann Bayes for its tourism momentum established over the past two years. The CVB spearheaded obtaining Music Friendly and Film Friendly status from the State of Texas. The robust San Angelo tourism economy poured more money into primarily the hospitality industry here, totaling $221 million in direct visitor spending. Based upon the successes of the Bureau over the past two years, CVB’s annual budget was increased above $1 million in the first time in its history. In 2020, San Angelo will host its first ever San Angelo Revolution Film Festival, recruited here by the CVB.
Pfluger pointed towards the community’s award of the Altus Trophy in March 2019. This is the second time San Angelo has been awarded the trophy in 12 years. The Altus Trophy is awarded annually to the community that best supports the Air Education and Training Command mission. Goodfellow Air Force Base is operated by AETC.
Pfluger also shepherded the Chamber through turbulence. Chamber President Bruce Partain resigned suddenly in November, forcing the Chamber to reorganize around a temporary executive leadership team led by retired banker and interim Chamber President Chuck Shore. The search for a new, permanent chamber president is ongoing. But while that is happening, the Chamber staff was able to market and organize a successful annual banquet with a record attendance of over 600 members at the McNease Convention Center.
Lee Pfluger, not directly related to the chamber board president, was recognized for his lifelong work making San Angelo a special place with the Phil Neighbors Spirit of San Angelo Award. Lee Pfluger was among the leaders in the early 1990s who created a master plan for the eventual development of downtown San Angelo. The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and Celebration Bridge could be bookends Lee Pfluger’s success promoting development there. But Lee, who also owns many of the buildings downtown, didn’t stop there. Over the years, he organized Concho Christmas and the annual Tour of Lights. Lee categorizes his involvement with downtown’s developments as “projects.” He created the business plan to build a “pocket park” as designated in the 1994 planning document and established an endowment to sustain its annual upkeep. Heritage Park, at the intersection of S. Oakes St. and E. Twohig Ave. was finished this year.
Though the award honored Lee Pfluger, he accepted the award on behalf of all of the volunteers he had worked with over the years, bringing each project to life.
Attendance to this year’s banquet was better than in past years. The headline speaker, TV star of the Texas Country Reporter television show Bob Phillips, told attendees that in the circles he spends most of his time in, the Texas tourism industry, San Angelo is a popular subject.
Above: Bob Phillips of the TV show Texas Country Reporter was the keynote speaker. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
“For over the past 24-30 months, all of the talk among all of the statewide tourism people is what in the world are all the people in San Angelo doing? The tourism numbers are through the roof. This place is on fire!” Phillips said. “You are to be commended and you are the talk of the state.”
Phillips said although his job takes him all over the state, he prefers it here.
“I like to get out into West Texas where you can see the horizon. Out here everything is in the wide open. You can see everything that is going on. It’s open and honest,” he said.
Phillips grew up in urban Dallas.
Dr. Clifton Jones, the Dean of the Norris-Vincent College of Business at Angelo State University, will be the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board for 2020. His vision for the next year is “Moving Forward with 2020 Vision.” Jones’ objectives incorporated more emphasis on helping small businesses.
The San Angelo Chamber of Commerce also recognized the following for their outstanding service to the chamber and the business community:
Awarded to: San Angelo To Go
A dream of three childhood friends, San Angelo To Go has been providing restaurant and grocery delivery services in the Concho Valley since October 2015. In January of 2019 San Angelo To Go expanded their services to now include catering services. The business has experienced great success and growth. In 2018 they delivered 71,000 orders and fulfilled 86,000 orders in 2019 thanks to the hard work and dedication of their 5 shift leaders, 97 drivers, and 1 general manager. San Angelo To Go has been an active Chamber member, including serving on the Concho Cadre, volunteering at the Business Expo, Goodfellow Appreciation Day, and West Texas Legislative Summit.
Awarded to: Janis Baucom
Janis Baucom is the owner of Walls & Windows, office manager for Pierce Miller, and has been a member of the Chamber for 30 years. With years of experience coordinating the Home and Garden Show, Janis brought her expertise and new ideas to the Chamber’s Business Expo, overhauling the Expo to breathe new life into it. She has made the Expo a massive success and an event to build on. Janis gives her all in everything she does and is the first person to volunteer or help in any way she can.
Awarded to: Dr. Brook Dickison with special appreciation to Joanne Powell, Cheryl DeCordova, Laura Lewis, and Evan Thomas
For over 15 years, the Chamber has been fortunate to host the West Texas Legislative Summit. Held in August each year, it rotates between federal and state issues. The 16th Annual West Texas Legislative Summit in 2019 was a federal year and focused on international trade. With the help of Congressman Mike Conaway, Senator Charles Perry, and Representative Drew Darby the event was a tremendous success. Leading the planning and implementation of the event was Dr. Brook Dickision. Dr. Dickison is an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Angelo State University and the chairman of the West Texas Legislative Summit planning committee. Her passion and dedication to the event has helped it continue to grow and succeed. Dr. Dickison would be the first to tell you that something as big as the West Texas Legislative Summit does not fall together nor happen with a couple of phone calls. It takes an entire team of dedicated individuals working behind the scenes to make everything happen.
The Chamber also recognizes the following individuals with a Special Appreciation Award:
- JoAnne Powell, regional director for Congressman Mike Conaway
- Evan Thomas, district director for Congressman Mike Conaway
- Laura Lewis, district director for Senator Charles Perry
- Cheryl DeCordova, district director for Representative Drew Darby
- Dr. Dickison and her incredible team have committed innumerable hours to the West Texas Legislative Summit and are already hard at work planning the 17th Annual West Texas Legislative Summit.
Awarded to: Old Central Firehouse Bed and Brew
In 2017, Michele and Jody Babiash purchased the Old Central Fire Station, built in 1929, with a plan in mind to give the building a facelift and a new purpose. In January 2018 renovations for what would become the Old Central Firehouse Bed and Brew began. After many hours of hard work, done mostly by Michele and Jody, the Babiash family proudly opened their new bed and breakfast to the public in May 2019, but had no plans on limiting their creative and innovative efforts. In addition to serving as a bed and breakfast, Old Central Firehouse will be operating as a pizzeria and taproom as soon as April 2020. The pizzeria will feature a brick oven and one of the first self-pour tap walls in the state. Michele and Jody trained in Staten Island, New York at the world renowned Original Goodfella Brick Oven Pizza to learn all they could about the fine art of brick oven pizzas. The couple also visited taprooms across Colorado to learn from the best of the best. Be on the lookout for the opening of the Old Central Firehouse Pizzeria and Taproom this spring.
Special Recognition Award
Awarded to: Ken Landon
Ken Landon is the founder and Superintendent of the International Waterlily Collection, a position he has held with pride for the past 31 years. Ken is also a founding member of the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society. Ken has a passion for waterlilies and works to research them and capture their beauty. Through his many years of dedication and work in the field, Ken has become one of the foremost experts on waterlilies alive today. In addition to his work with waterlilies, Ken is also known for the fantastic fireworks displays he creates for the annual July 3rd Pops Concert and Lake Nasworthy fireworks shows. Ken has been wowing crowds with his fireworks displays since 1987. His dedication to the pyrotechnic displays has put San Angelo on the map and helped him to meet two presidents. Ken’s patriotism shines bright all year round and his fireworks shows are a tradition for many in San Angelo and the Concho Valley.
Awarded to: Dave Erickson, Angelo State University Small Business Development Center
For 30 years the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center (ASU-SBDC) has been providing business advising and training services to the ten-county area of the Concho Valley. The ASU-SBDC has provided thousands of small business owners in the area free and confidential business advising and training to better manage their businesses and to help entrepreneurs create new businesses. In the last two years they have served 1,100 small business clients on a one-on-one basis. They have also recorded over 100 new business startups and 70 business expansions. Yet another benefit of the ASU-SBDC is the creation of 489 jobs in the past two years as well as the help they provided in securing more than $20 million in loans and owner investments. They also host the annual San Angelo Business Plan Competition, which has seen massive participation and success from area business owners.
At the head of the ASU-SBDC is Dave Erickson. Dave joined the ASU-SBDC team in 1999 as a business advisor and has been the Director since 2005. With 20 years of experience in managing business, the contributions Dave has made alongside the entire ASU-SBDC have helped to shape the face of business in San Angelo and has gifted the city with their critical services.
Special Merit Award
Awarded to: Goodfellow Air Force Base
In 2019, Goodfellow Air Force Base donated nearly 14,000 volunteer hours at over 130 events in the community. Team Goodfellow is comprised of service members from the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force, as well as civilians, contractors, spouses, and family members. These incredible individuals continue to enhance the quality of life in the community. From advocating for abused and neglected children to participating in clothing drives, preparing meals for families in need, and much more, Team Goodfellow is dedicated to San Angelo and the Concho Valley. Goodfellow Air Force Base also sustains a wonderful partnership with the San Angelo community that has been recognized in recent years with the ALTUS Award in 2014 and 2018. San Angelo is the only AETC community in nation to win the award twice.
Phil Neighbors Spirit of San Angelo Award
Awarded to: Lee Pfluger
For the last three decades Lee Pfluger has been working to make our community a better place to work, play, and live. Lee’s efforts have been woven into the fabric of the city and have made San Angelo a unique and special place. Along with Howard Taylor, Henry Schmidt, Steven Brown, and many others, Lee worked diligently on a strategic plan to preserve and restore our historical downtown and heritage. From the construction of Celebration Bridge, to The Cactus Hotel, to the Concho Christmas Celebration, his touch can be seen throughout the city. The Cactus Hotel remains an iconic landmark for our city and a gem in downtown. Lee’s joy in giving comes to life with his incredible Christmas lights display, aptly named the Concho Christmas Celebration. Founded in 1994, the Concho Christmas Celebration now features over 3 million lights in various Christmas scenes. The display is ever expanding and growing with Lee’s goal to add a new celebration each year. Kayaking and running through the Christmas lights are among the newest additions to the Concho Christmas Celebration. Lee’s passion for San Angelo has shone bright for well over 30 years now and will continue to grow, just as his impact on the city has.
Retiring Directors – Service Awards
- Trinidad Aguirre, Jr.
- Jeff Chandler
- Keith Dial
- Scott Jameson
- C.J. Muniz
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