Tonganoxie banker earns honor for economic development efforts
Chris Donnelly considers his work with Leavenworth Area Development important but he modestly says it's not outstanding.
But other people think differently.
And on Friday, Donnelly, Tonganoxie resident and executive vice president of First State Bank and Trust, was named Leavenworth Area Development's Economic Development Volunteer of the Year.
"There's a lot of people who deserve that just as much or more than me," Donnelly said.
Lynn McClure, executive director of LAD, said Donnelly's name kept coming up as McClure asked for nominees for the annual award, which was presented at the Greater Leavenworth Area Business and Industry Recognition and Awards luncheon at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth.
McClure said there were many reasons Donnelly was chosen for the honor, including the way Donnelly stepped up when LAD was without a director in 2003 and 2004. McClure said Donnelly helped handle some executive duties while the board worked to fill the position, which McClure called "a huge undertaking."
Donnelly didn't take credit for all the work but acknowledged, "I had a lot of trips to Leavenworth, put it that way."
Donnelly said he's been involved with LAD for six or seven years. He has served as a board member and has held every officer position -- treasurer, secretary, vice president and president -- on the executive committee. He is the current past president.
Donnelly said he puts so much effort into LAD because economic development is important to everyone in the county.
Enhancing economic development increases jobs, infrastructure and the tax base, he said. Donnelly said he appreciated the sentiment behind the recognition luncheon and was glad to celebrate businesses in the county that make a positive impact.
"Small business is what makes Leavenworth County go around," Donnelly said. "We don't often tell businesses 'Thank you.'"
Leavenworth County chambers of commerce each had an opportunity to thank local businesses at the luncheon.
Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce recognized businesses and individuals for their contributions to the city, chamber president Charlie Stimac said. Those honored by Tonganoxie were:
- Sharon Moreland, director of the Tonganoxie Public Library. Since she joined the library in September 2003, the library has enjoyed many successes, including expansion of offerings to patrons, both in the library and through a library network; enhancing the library's summer reading program; and partnering with the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission to host Second Saturday Teen Cafes and Moonlight Hoops for teens.
- Dan Lynch of Lynch Real Estate. Lynch has been a great influence on Tonganoxie with his real estate business in the selling of numerous homes, Stimac said.
- Jack Willis of Willis Construction. Willis has been in the housing and development industry since 1989, and he has worked in both Leavenworth and Jefferson counties. Most recently, he's focused on single-family homes in Tonganoxie.
- Mark Himpel of Himpel Construction. Himpel, a lifelong Tonganoxie resident, focuses on new construction and real estate development.
- Kevin and Brenda Weldon of Honey Creek Disposal. The 6-year-old Tonganoxie company has grown to provide services to portions of Leavenworth, Douglas and Jefferson counties.
Debbie Breuer, president of the Basehor Chamber of Commerce, recognized:
- Heartland Dental Group. This group was founded in 1986, serving Leavenworth and Lansing areas. In February 2004, the group opened a satellite office in Basehor in Basehor Town Square, investing nearly $500,000 in the project.
- Sunflower Broadband, which provides high-speed Internet access, as well as telephone and broadband television service to customers in Basehor and Tonganoxie, as well as other area communities. Since purchasing the systems in Tonganoxie and Basehor in 2000, Sunflower Broadband has invested more than $3.2 million in upgrading the cable plant in these areas in order to bring these communities the most advanced services available.
Sunflower Broadband, which has offices in Basehor, is owned by the World Company of Lawrence, which owns The Mirror newspaper of Tonganoxie and the Basehor Sentinel, as well as the Lawrence Journal-World and several other weekly newspapers in northeast Kansas.
- Basehor Suds. This car wash, owned and operated by Mario and Crystal Moore, opened in September 2003, just west of Town Square.