Food for the evening included a wide variety of tasty bites as
prepared by Hilltop Caterers. Savory items were offered in the
restaurant area, while desserts were available on the balcony.
The Knights of Columbus provided a cash bar with the Alliance
offering two signature cocktails free of charge.
The event began at 6 p.m. The reception area filled quickly as
guests arrived for a red carpet themed evening dressed to the nines.
At 7:30 p.m. everyone was invited to adjourn to Theater Four, where
the annual business meeting would take place along with the
presentation of the Pride and Progress Awards.
In the theater, a slideshow presentation was given offering a review
of events that had been held by the Alliance this year including the
Pigs & Swigs, Art in the Park, Balloon Festival, and the annual
Chamber Golf Outing.
Local Attorney Jim Grimaldi served as the Master of Ceremonies for
the evening. Grimaldi opened with a personal resume of his
membership with the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber and moved quickly
into some of the “Thank you's” for the evening’s event including to
theater owner David Lanterman for the use of the theater, Hilltop
Caterers, and the Knights of Columbus. He also acknowledged the
dinner planning committee, Allison Pharis, Tammy Thomas, Marsha
Darlington, Leslie Bennett, Jennifer Kirby, and Konnor Browne.
Alliance staff was also recognized - Jamie Bishop, Konnor Browne,
Tina Rusk, Maggie McMurtrey, Andi Hake and Cara Barr.
It was noted that Representative Tim Butler had been on hand. City
officials present included Mary Marty Neitzel, Aldermen Todd
Mourning, Kathy Horn, Michelle Bauer, Jeff Hoinacki, Steve Parrott,
Rick Hoefle and Tracy Welch. Others there representing the city of
Lincoln: City Administrator, Clay Johnson; and Building and Safety
Officer John Lebegue, and Assistant Officer Corey Ingram.
The various factions within the Alliance were also recognized.
Grimaldi asked members of each committee or council to stand as he
named the group. Those recognized included members of the Chamber
Council, Young Professionals Network, Chamber Ambassadors, Events
Council, all the event planning committees, the Development Council,
Downtown Business Committee, Logan County Tourism Council, Save the
Tropics Sign Committee, and the LCA Board of Directors.
After announcing the last call on raffle tickets and 50-50 drawing
tickets, the new Alliance/Chamber members for 2015 were named, of
which there were many. The podium was then turned over to LCA
Chairman of the Board, Tom O’Donohue, and Tourism Council,
Vice-Chairman Kristi Powell.
The two jointly called to order the business meeting portion of the
Alliance, Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, and Logan County
Tourism Bureau. O’Donohue asked for a motion to approve the annual
report. The motion was made and passed.
Powell then announced the proposed officers for the 2016 year for
the Tourism Council: Chairman Sal Pollice, Vice-Chairman Renee
Martin, and Treasurer Paresh Patel. The motion to approve was made
Officers proposed for the Logan County Alliance: Chairman Tom
O’Donohue, Vice-Chairman Greg Basford, and Treasurer Keith Snyder,
Treasurer. Again the motion was made and passed.
O’Donohue then called to the podium Alliance President and CEO Andi
Hake. Hake discussed her history with the Chamber as she prepares to
depart from the organization. (See separate article) Greg Basford
delivered a brief speech addressing Hakes departure; then O’Donohue
presented her with a plaque and a gift basket from Giggles and Gab.
It was also announced that there will be a reception held in Hake’s
honor on February 10th at the Elks in Lincoln.
O’Donohue gave an overview of the past year on the newly formed
Alliance and a look into the future. O'Donohue began with the
formation of the Alliance in January and the process of getting to
know the board members who had not worked together in the past. He
noted that coming up with a name for the new organization was a
challenge that took months to conclude. He talked about the
structuring of the by-laws that would incorporate the various
organizations into one entity.
O'Donohue spoke about the Alliance partnership with the city of
Lincoln for economic development and noted that the Alliance had
played a large role in getting the new application for the 2017
Enterprise Zone completed. He noted that application has been filed
and that it is vital for the future of Logan County business
development that the designation made by the state of Illinois be
granted to Lincoln and Logan County.
He talked about the business retention plan working with local
businesses that is now in place, so they may continue to grow in
O'Donohue explained that the Tourism Bureau had previously been an
entity of the county, and had to be re-defined as a standalone,
He also offered a review of the funding from the state for tourism,
how it has now gone away. He said that the bureau had last year
awarded $22,000 in mini-grants for advertising to various
organizations so they could promote their events held in Logan
The Alliance has begun developing a strategic plan that includes the
county on the whole, as well as the city of Lincoln, and the
organizations within the Alliance. He noted the plan is still a work
in progress as the group begins its new year.
He talked about the expansion of the Lincoln Art and Balloon
Festival into three events. O'Donohue noted the balloon festival was
the largest it has ever been, and the Pigs and Swigs was also a
great event. He said that while the Art in the Park was not as
successful, changes were going to be made that he believed would
make it a much better event this year.
He acknowledged Maggie McMurtrey of the Tourism Bureau; and Alliance
Events Coordinator, Cara Barr, saying that both had done incredible
jobs in their respective roles inside the Alliance.
For the 2016 year, O’Donohue said, “membership is going to be a
major focus for us; improving the services that we offer to the
members of the Alliance.” He added, “You can join the Alliance for
free, so the board feels there is no reason everyone shouldn’t be a
For 2016, the Alliance will revive the Legislative Affairs
Committee. O’Donohue explained that Legislative Affairs has always
existed, but in this year of transition, it had been pushed to the
back. Now it will be brought back into the foreground.
There is a hiring timeline for a new President and CEO of the
Alliance. O’Donohue said there were currently approximately 40
applications for the position, including some local applicants.
O’Donohue ended his speech with the following statement: “I’m proud
to have been the president, I am proud to be the president for the
second year. I am proud of my board, and the members of my staff.
They have done an excellent job for this community and do not get
the recognition they have earned.”
[to top of second column]
Grimaldi returned to the front and acknowledged the retiring board
members for this year. Those people included: Kristi Powell from the
Tourism Bureau Council; Michael Gowin (unable to attend) and Matthew
Xamis from the Alliance Board.
Tom O'Donohue, Kristi
Powell, and Andi Hake
Xamis, and Hake
Next came the announcements of the Pride and Progress Awards.
Pride and Progress Award winners
Distinguished Business of the Year:
Leon, El Mazatlan Restaurant
Excellence in Service Award:
Elaine and Steve Awe,
New Business of the year:
Chris and Jamie Beard, Reps Gym
Educator of the Year:
Kathy Stoyak, Spanish teacher,
Lincoln Community High School
Lincoln Grand 8 Theater
Chamber Ambassador of the Year: Karen Hargis,
Lincoln Daily News
Volunteer of the Year Award:
To wrap up the evening of
events, Sal Pollice was welcomed as the new chairman of the Logan
County Tourism Bureau. Other members of the Tourism Council were
introduced including Steve Parrott, Renee Martin, Shawn Taylor, Ron
Keller and Paresh Patel.
O'Donohue and Sal
The 2016 members of the Alliance board were also called to the
front. They are Tom O’Donohue, Greg Basford, Keith Snyder, Frank
Adubato, Sal Pollice, and Jean Bruner-Jachino.
Grimaldi then delivered the oath of office to all members present.
The meeting was then called to a close by the two chairs; O’Donohue
The last events of the evening were the drawing of raffle and 50-50
winners and winners of the silent auctions. One silent auction item,
tickets to a Chicago Bulls game, will have the proceeds given to the
“Save the Tropics” fundraiser that is currently ongoing.
The evening closed with Grimaldi thanking CEFCU for sponsorship of
the reception event and Frontier Communications for sponsorship of
the Pride and Progress Awards.