Welcomed on stage with a standing ovation, Ernie Currier was honored as Great Enid Chamber of Commerce's 2016 Citizen of the Year Thursday evening at Central National Bank Center.
"Our recipient lives a life of 'helping wherever you are needed,'" said Jim Strate , 2015 Citizen of the Year. "He is passionate about sharing the Word and is active in teaching and mentoring young adults through First Baptist Church. Our honoree truly exemplifies community service and leadership."
A Vance Air Force Base Partner in the Sky, Currier has an extensive record of service, Strate said. Currier currently serves on the Enid Public Schools Board of Education and Leadership Greater Enid Board.
"He takes the community’s relationship with Vance Air Force Base very seriously and was a leader for Enid during the 2005 BRAC round," Strate said. "As a member of the Vance Development Authority, he has continued to be very involved in Enid’s efforts to protect Vance and expand its mission. He remains active at the base and also with his Air Force 'kids,' many of whom refer to him as 'Pa' out on the farm. In fact, many members of his now large, extended Air Force family come back to visit him. "
Currier said receiving the award and that moment was "highly emotional" for him.
"I'm embarrassed because I see so many folks in this audience deserving of this award," he said. "I love Enid. When we moved here in 1971, Enid became home. I can't tell you how much of a surprise this is, and thank you is all I can say."
Currier received the award at Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting and banquet. It was one of six awards presented at the event.
Kyle Hockmeyer was honored as the chamber’s 2016 Ambassador of the Year.
Ambassador of the Year is chosen by fellow ambassadors and is someone who exhibited outstanding participating and dedication to the chamber.
“Our 2015 Ambassador of the Year has lived up to this expectation,” said Arlene Shore, 2015 Ambassador of the Year.
“He has attended numerous ribbon cuttings, ground-breakings and networking events throughout his past few years of service,” she said.
Hockmeyer is the business and industry coordinator at Autry Technology Center and has been an ambassador since 2013.
He has been involved with the Cherokee Strip Days Celebration committee, Enid Young Professionals and Leadership Greater Enid Class XXIII.
"I'm not one for words, so thank you to the other ambassadors for choosing me," Hockmeyer said.
Hockmeyer will serve on the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Volunteer of the Year for 2016 was awarded to Joe Forbes.
“Tonight’s honoree exemplifies volunteerism through his dedication to chamber and community-sponsored events and activities,” said Al Fox, 2015 Volunteer of the Year.
Forbes was recognized for his efforts at chamber events, Cherokee Strip Days Celebration, Northwest District Junior Livestock Show and for his service on the Enlisted Appreciation Night Committee for 30 years.
“Just this year, he was recognized during a special presentation at the 49th annual Enlisted Appreciation Night for his continuous dedication to that event,” Fox said.
The 2016 Civic Improvement Award was presented to Leonardo’s Children Museum’s. Executive Director Julie Baird accepted the award on behalf of the museum.
“The Civic Improvement Award is traditionally given to an entity or project that has improved the quality of our city aesthetically, socially or educationally,” said Northern Oklahoma College President Cheryl Evans, 2015’s Civic Improvement Award recipient. “Tonight we are recognizing a project that has impacted Enid in all three ways.”
Leonardo’s completed a multi-million dollar fundraising effort for renovations and construction. Fundraising efforts began in 2011. Phase 1 of the project is completed, and Phase 2 will be completed in 2017.
“Leonardo’s received this award exactly 20 years ago,” Baird said. “It is my honor to accept this once again on behalf of our great board of directors and staff.”
John Berg, president and CEO of The Triangle Companies, was awarded Business Person of the Year.
“Under his leadership, Triangle has experienced remarkable growth,” said April Danahy, 2013 Business Person of the Year. “As of January 2016, Triangle has 125 employees, combined assets over $120 million and now operates in 20 Midwestern states. The company remains cooperatively owned and has added two more entities — Service First Premium Finance Company and Ag Armour, a supplemental crop insurance provider.”
Triangle supports the community through corporate sponsorships at Leonardo’s, United Way, Loaves & Fishes and many more, Danahy said.
Berg thanked the community for its support, calling the award a great honor.
"We have a lot of success in the organization, but I would be remiss if I didn't recognize our dedicated group of employees, who without, it wouldn't be a success," Berg said. "Don't let any nay-sayers in town tell you Enid isn't a great place to build a company."
The Special Recognition Award went to two people who helped with the extension of Enid Woodring Regional Airport’s runway.
Mike Cooper and Dan Ohnesorge were recognized for their efforts.
“Mike was the point man at the state and federal level,” said presenter Cory Moore. “He first approached senior level Air Force officials who enthusiastically concurred with extending the runway to accommodate the T-38. From there, the support for the project grew.”
Moore said Ohnesorge, Woodring manager, worked closely with the consultant engineering firm and various contractors.
“He also authored such science projects as demonstrating the existing need for a longer runway, negotiating the land purchase, formulating the persuasive argument to keep our control tower open when faced with budget cuts and developing a convincing argument that ultimately resulted in a $1.4 million grant from the FAA,” Moore said.
Ohnesorge said the project was more complicated than he envisioned.
"But, we got through it and made it happen," he said.
Cooper echoed his sentiments, stating everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
"But we got it done," Cooper said. "You don't think you can make things happen, but if you believe it in enough, it can happen."