Over a 200 Chamber of Commerce members, business owners and their families converged on Ballinger’s Carnegie Library on February 27th for the Ballinger Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet. Newly anointed chamber president, Laura Gonzalez, and outgoing chamber president, Belinda Castillo, acted as emcees for the event. The duo thanked the city for helping boost the economy by helping the chamber some their annual events such as Moonlight Madness shopping, Christmas in Olde Ballinger and their bake sale. Gonzalez presented Castillo with a gavel as an outgoing gift. Castillo will remain on the chamber to assist where needed.

The new executive board of directors will consist of Gonzalez, Sarah Long, Jeff Smith, as vice chairman, Carolyn Slaughter will be the secretary and Tammy Truesdell with be the treasurer. Michael Conrad, Chad McDuffee, Lola Murchison, Suzanne Torres, Glenn Wendt and Alex Knowlton will also be on the board.

The annual Citizen of the Year Award went to Ballinger city councilman Rick Morrish. The other 2 finalists were Fallen Busenlehner and Angela Hoyle. Morrish said he was surprised when he was told that he was a finalist for the award, “When Carolyn called and said that I was a finalist, I was dumbfounded and at a loss for words. I’ve always tried to work and be helpful. I’ve always tried to do things in order to move things along and make progress in the programs that I’m involved in. I have faith in Jesus, I love Ballinger and I love my country.” Morrish was born in Louisiana and came to Ballinger in 1952. He graduated from Ballinger High School in 1958 and married his wife, Sue, in 1960. Morrish is an Air Force veteran and worked in the oil and gas industry for over 30 years. Morrish spoke of Sue, “Through happiness and sadness, she’s been with me every day. We’ll celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary this year.” Morrish also spoke of expectations, “I will try to live up to the decision the chamber made and I will try to live up to that great honor.”

The finalists for Business of the Year were Buddy’s Plant Plus, Steve Smith at Raymond James Financial and KRUN Radio. The winner was KRUN. Jeff Smith, the general manager and morning show co-host gave a short speech, “When we took this over 3 years ago, my mom came to help me out. She worked there for 20 years. I drug poor mom out of retirement to help me. I had her there to back me up when I needed it. When she wasn’t there anymore, my sister stepped in. Everything that we, KRUN, do in this community is for this community. Without you guys helping us, without your support, we couldn’t be us.” Smith also thanked his morning show co-host, Landy Cason of Cason’s Mercantile, “A lot of the ideas that we come up with for the community come from Landy. He does what he does because of the love in his heart.”

The Ballinger Junior Chamber of Commerce selected Ballinger coach and teacher, Ken Manley, as their Citizen of the Year. Manley is the head of the Ballinger Youth Sports Association (BYSA) and has been instrumental in getting athletic projects off the ground for the BYSA, “I’ve been doing this so long that it’s second-nature to me. All that we do, everything, is for the kids. I couldn’t do this without the support of my family.”

The Chamber of Commerce bestowed their 1st annual, “Friend of the Chamber” award to Beverly Everett.