Awards Banquet
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The 59th Annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet was held on February 13, 2012 at 6 PM in the Ward County Convention Center.  The theme was "Texas."  The Women's Division of the Chamber of Commerce and the Ambassadors decorated the Convention Center for the banquet.  The Ambassadors also mingled along the crowd and helped set up and break down the tables and chairs for the event.  Featured sponsors Crossed Eyed Moose, Furniture Gone Wild and Simply home donated the decorations for the banquet.

Nathan Sawyer along with Bryan Heflin and Todd Hunt helped prepare the delicious meal consisting of tomato and cucumber salad, Mesquite Grilled Rib Eye Steak, baked potatoes, green beans and brownies.  Village Farms donated the cucumbers and tomatoes for the salad.  Attendees also received a pack of Sweet Campari tomatoes courtesy of Village Farms.

The Girls and Boys Golf Booster Club provided the valet parking.  The 4-H Club were the servers for the evening.  Both groups earned money for their organizations from tips left by the attendees.

Hal Upchurch was the Master of Ceremonies.  Hal reminded the group that Ward County is still fighting the government about the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, but we have made great progress.  He commended Teresa Burnett on her efforts to prevent the lizard from being considered endangered.

Jeppie Wilson said the invocation and benediction.  As part of Nathan Sawyer's Outgoing President's remarks he updated the crowd on some of the Chamber of Commerce's achievements for 2011.  The Chamber added 29 new members, held three ground breaking and added one business after hours.  He talked about events for 2011 such as the Resolution Run, the Golf Tournament, the Chamber Directory, Grinch, Freedom Festival, Visitors Guide, the new billboard and marquee.  He asked for help from volunteers for the Club Volleyball Tournament being held on February 26th through the 27th in Monahans.

Teresa Burnett presented Outstanding Director to Nathan Sawyer and Hal Upchurch.  A-1 Cleaners and Sawyer and Associates received the Jan and Ted Roden Awards.  Bryan Davis is the 2011 Wickett Citizen of the Year.  Bryan Heflin presented Nancy Upchurch with Ambassador of the Year.  Renee Heflin received the Women's Division of the Chamber of Commerce appreciation award.  Brett Heflin announced Tommy and Penny Escamilla as recipients of the 2011 Youth Leadership Award.  The 2011 Merit Award went to Ward County.  Billy Riley presented Howard Powers with the 2011 Outstanding Citizen Award.

Michael A. DeGiglio, CEO of Village Farms, was the featured speaker during the banquet.  Village Farms was started 25 years ago in the northeastern part of the United States.  They now have three facilities in West Texas.  The Monahans facility is 30 acres and cost 45 million to build.  They will produce 25 million pounds of tomatoes a year using 1/5 of the water it would take to grow them outside of a greenhouse.  They will employee 110 people at the Monahans facility.  They are in the first phase of a four phase plan in Monahans.

Village Farms grows about 95% of the tomatoes in Texas.  They also grow cucumbers and sweet peppers.  The reason they are not considered organic is because they do not want to introduce an organic matter to their tomatoes.  A bonus, the drought in Texas has not affected Village Farms production.  Four years of research was put into the Monahans facility.  Mr. DeGiglio said, "We are a small company and we are family.  We treat our employees with dignity and give them benefits that you normally do not see in the Agriculture business.  The more successful we are here the more we will expand."  The employees of Village Farms receive a 401K, health insurance and bonuses.

Mr. DeGiglio stressed that Village Farms does not receive help from the State or Federal governments.  Mr. DeGiglio stated, "Our sincere gratitude to Judge Holly, Mayor Cutbirth, Teresa Burnett and her staff for their help and support in bringing Village Farms to Monahans.  Morse Haynes is a great asset to Monahans.  Thank you to the Village Farm team."

Mr. DeGiglio announced that Village Farms was donating $2000 to the Chamber of Commerce for their beautification project.  Village Farms will also be cleaning an area of the Loop Road.  Mr. DeGiglio encouraged other businesses to participate.

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