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Chamber board chair: Good things to come for Victoria (Video)

By ALLISON MILES
Dec. 7, 2011 at 6:07 a.m.
Updated Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:08 a.m.

Connie Hermes

Award recipients

People awarded at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's 2011 annual membership meeting include:

Committee Chairman of the Year

Winner: Connie Hermes

Why: Hermes has done tremendous work with the chamber's Ambassadors program and is the longest-seated chair in chamber history. - Randy Vivian

Ambassador of the Quarter

Winner: Marie Lester

Why: A member since 2009, Lester goes above and beyond. She has earned 260 points through her activity with the program, well beyond the 75 required. - Connie Hermes

Lifetime Award

Winner: Donna Bentley

Why: Bentley has been an Ambass-adors member for 12 years and also remains involved in the community, through organizations such as the Victoria Adult Literacy Council. - Randy Vivian

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Ginger Watkins

Why: Watkins was a member of the Ambassadors program several years ago and recently rejoined. She remains active and will sit on the board in 2012. - Connie Hermes

Healthcare Practitioner of the Year

Winner: Dr. Tyson Meyer

Why: He goes out of his way to make sure patients understand their issues and what is happening to them and always remains compass-ionate. - Kathleen Carey

Rotarian Citizen of the Year

Winner: Janey Lack

Why: Lack is well-educated, a trend setter and has traveled extensively. She has given back to the community through organizations such as the Victoria Symphony, Leadership Texas, the Crossroads Commission on Education and her family business, Lacks Home Furnishings. - Art Calvo

*Lack and Bentley were not present at Wednesday awards ceremony.

People say Victoria's economy is on the rise, but sometimes it doesn't hit home until compared to other communities.

Milton Chapman, 2012 chair of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce board, said he found himself shocked when he attended a family reunion in his hometown of Albany, Ill.

"There are parts of the country that are not doing as well as we are," the 25-year Victoria resident said. "We are extremely lucky to be in Victoria, Texas."

Chapman spoke to about 130 people Wednesday at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's annual membership meeting, updating them on where things stand and the year to come.

Victoria has much to be thankful for, he said, noting ongoing Eagle Ford Shale drilling projects, the University of Houston-Victoria's downward expansion, new high schools, an expanded Port of Victoria and more.

He said he prayed a new convention center also would soon join the mix and said he expected the next 20 years to be among the most exciting in Victoria's history.

"We're going to refocus, review what we're doing and we're going to make sure that what the chamber does gives true value to everybody here in Victoria," he said.

2011 was an interesting year for the chamber, said Randy Vivian, the organization's president and CEO.

The chamber gave the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau back to the city, he said, noting it was a difficult decision, but the right one to make. A trip to Austin also gave Crossroads residents a chance to work with the Legislature on several issues that affected Victoria.

Like Chapman, Vivian said the local economy saw a rebound, and it came faster than the rest of the country.

New retail, restaurant and hotel options are in the works, he said, and hotels are already full. Caterpillar hasn't even really begun hiring for its incoming hydraulic excavator plant yet.

"This is an exciting time, and you guys are all part of it," Vivian said.

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