JCCC holds Annual Awards Banquet

June 8, 2021

Last Thursday the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce held their annual awards banquet at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon. This year the Jefferson County Chamber was celebrating their 100th birthday and chose the theme “Decades Through the Years” and asked members to wear attire from their favorite decade. The accompanying photos show some from their favorite decades.

Incoming President Mark Terry and Chamber Executive Director Mike Beard presented the Small Business Person of the Year to Jay Tate.
Tate, owner of Harlow Moving in Mt. Vernon, said they are fully invested in Mt. Vernon and are thankful to be here. Tate purchased the family business from his father Bob Tate 20 years ago this September. Runners up for the Small Business Award were Mario Hodge, manager of Parkway Shoe Repair, and Kathleen Shoemaker, co-owner of Carl’s for Men and Women.

Brandon Bullard, vice president of the Past Presidents Council, presented the Presidents Award posthumously to the late Gino Federici, owner of Milano Metals for 50 years. Representing the Federici family, son Michael Federici and daughter Mia Barker spoke of their father and thanked the Chamber for the award. The award is based on merit and not awarded every year. The award is given to an individual or business that has changed the landscape and life in Southern Illinois.

Chamber President Melanie Andrews present ed the Young Professional of the Year to Ben Sperry. The award honors young professionals ages 21 to 40 for their ongoing commitment and performance in the workplace community. Sperry has helped to revitalize downtown Mt. Vernon with two businesses, Joe’s Pizza and Dee Bee’s.

Friends of the Chamber was presented by Chamber Director Mike Beard to the employees of the Mt. Vernon Convention and Visitors Bureau, Director Angela Schrum, Account Executive Victoria Nesbitt and Marketing Executive Lana Buck. The Chamber greatly appreciated their efforts in helping to complete the Chamber’s 100th Anniversary magazine.

The Grand Ambassador’s Award was presented posthumously to Tina Suarez by Jamie Storey, vice president of the Ambassadors Council. Storey said, “Ms. Tina Suarez was a phenomenal ambassador. She lit up every room she was ever in.” Tina Suarez joined the Ambassador Council while working for The Weekly Papers, following her lifelong career in education, including her Early Childhood Professorship at Kaskaskia College.

Incoming President Mark Terry received the gavel from outgoing President Melanie Andrews.

Pictured above: Small Business Person of the Year Jay Tate

President’s Award (posthumously) Gino Federici


Young Professional of the Year Ben Sperry


Friend of the Chamber – Angela Schrum, Lana Buck, Victoria Nesbitt


Passing the Gavel – Melanie Andrews to Mark Terry



Grand Ambassador Award (posthumously) and 
Tina Suarez and presenter Jamie Storey



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