A longtime local leader and a high school athletic and academic standout were among those honored by the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce during the organization’s annual banquet Thursday at June’s Northland in Leavenworth.
The Chamber handed out four awards this year, including its Humanitarian of the Year. Outgoing Chamber Chairman Josh Hoppes said in his introduction of that recipient that she stands alone among past recipients.
“What is a bit unique is that the Humanitarian of the Year this year is that she is not only a tremendous volunteer and ambassador for the community, she’s also an invaluable asset to our Chamber,” he said.
For those new to the country heading to Fort Leavenworth, Maxine Hunter is likely a familiar one. Hoppes said Hunter has served for about a decade as an active member of the Chamber’s Operation International committee, which matches incoming international families headed to the fort with local sponsors that help them acclimate to their new home. Maxine and her husband, Tab, have themselves sponsored 25 such international officer families since becoming involved. Hoppes said Maxine now heads that committee and organizes the annual multi-day American orientation course for international spouses and children.
“It simply would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of her and her team,” he said.
Maxine has also helped foster international good will though the city of Leavenworth’s Sister Cities Advisory Committee. Last year, Hunter traveled to one of the city’s two sister cities, Wagga Wagga, Australia, for a visit and to take part in the annual Wagga Wagga Quest.
When not working to accommodate and meet those from around the globe, Hoppes said Maxine can also be found wearing the red coat as a Chamber ambassador at ribbon-cuttings, Chamber coffees and other events.
Even given that, the recipient herself said she was taken back by the honor.
“This is a total surprise to me,” she said in accepting the award. “Total surprise.”
Maxine said she was honored to accept the award, especially in the city that she and her husband have long been happy to call home.
“I have been in Leavenworth 20 years now and I love the city and I love serving on every committee that I can or doing what I can,” she said. “I love everything I do in this city and I love the people that I work with. They are all the greatest.”
The Chamber also gave out its Junior Citizen of the Year, an honor that Hoppes said was admittedly hard for the selection committee to narrow down.
“This year’s recipient is the true definition of a well-rounded young person and a scholar-athlete,” Hoppes said.
With a 4.245 grade-point average, enrollment in advanced placement courses like calculus and a score of 35 on the ACT college preparation test — on a scale of 36 — Hoppes said the recipient is outstanding when it comes to academics. He’s involved in student council and band. But his athletic accomplishments are as noteworthy —earning three varsity letters and the honor of “lineman of the year” for the Leavenworth High School football team. And Hoppes said the recipient, Nathan Butler, was “one of the most dominant wrestlers in LHS history,” with 6A state titles in his sophomore and junior years. Butler is heading to Stanford University next fall with a wrestling scholarship.
Page 2 of 2 - “And I have little doubt that he will leave and indelible mark on that great organization,”
Butler, in accepting the award, thanked the Chamber, his LHS teachers and coaches and his parents.
“Without them, none of this would have been possible,” he said.
Butler said he did have one regret as he looks forward.
“I’m going to have to leave this community that I’ve grown to love in my high school years,” he said.
The new Chamber Chairman, Dan Sheehan of Saint John Hospital, introduced the next two
awards. He said the Ambassador of the Year was awarded based on a point-system, with nominations and executive input also considered. This year, recipient David Thompson went above and beyond for the Chamber and its members, Sheehan said.
“Our first annual Ambassador of the Year stood out from the rest,” he said. “He accumulated over 5,000 points in 2012 and made at least 300 phone calls to not only existing members to see how business was going, but also to potential new members.”
And for the Business of the Year Award, Sheehan said accounting firm DeMaranville and Associates earned the honor not just because of their business practices and consistent expansion, but in their commitment to the community, hiring part-time high-school and college students to teach their trade.
“Their employees have strong loyalty to the business, and each year this business owner gives her employees an allotted amount of money specifically for spending in downtown Leavenworth,” to encourage local shopping, Sheehan said.