Aledo Chamber honors area individuals

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Receiving recognition from the Aledo Area Chamber of Commerce, from left were: John Malone, Mercer Foundation for Health (Organization of the Year 2008); Don Zook, Zook Investments (Business of the Year 2008); Gene Cooper (Hall of Fame 2008); John Hoscheidt, Past president and Lance Meyer accepting on behalf of Steve Oaks (Chamber Member of the Year 2008).

Aledo Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet and awards ceremony Saturday, March 7 at the Mercer County VFW Hall. Around 60 individuals had dinner prior to the awards ceremony, with the 2008 AACC President John Hoscheidt performing his last public speaking duty for the organization, as the award ceremony emcee.

Named as the Organization of the year (2008) was Mercer Foundation for Health, with John Malone accepting the plaque. Hoscheidt pointed to Malone's "Leading the charge for the healthcare we need in this county" specifically pointed to his fund-raising during the capital fund drive to renovate the hospital.

"Our goal was $1 million and we surpassed it," said Malone.

Hoscheidt used one word to describe the next chamber award recipient - persistence. He called forward Zook Investments, Inc., as the winner of the Business of the year, and Don Zook came forward. Hoscheidt said that Zook Investments refurbished the old Thede building not once, but twice to bring thriving business to downtown Aledo. "Retail sales were up last year," said Hoscheidt. "That says a lot about the business community here."

"I waited a long time to get to this point," said Zook. He thanked his wife Starr and all the other contractors and businesses that have supported his efforts. "I didn't do this alone. My wife stood right there with me."

"On behalf of everyone who came together for this project, thank you."

Lance Meyer announced the next award - the past president's award. He thanked Hoscheidt for all his efforts during the Aledo Holly Days. "The actual number of members grew last year," said Meyer.

Hoscheidt then called forward the Hall of Fame winner Gene Cooper. "He has continually helped with the chamber of commerce by helping businesses thrive and grow in the community," said Hoscheidt.

"This gentleman has been an integral part of the community," said Hoscheidt.

Hoscheidt said Cooper was his first boss in Aledo when he moved to the community 30 years ago.

Cooper was a man of few words when he accepted his Hall of Fame award, other than to thank everybody. He talked about being on the Aledo Civic Association with Jerry Hall.

Named as the Chamber Member of the Year was Steve Oaks, who was unable to be at the awards ceremony.

"He was here today to help us set up for the awards day," said Hoscheidt. "Anything the chamber's ever asked, he's helped."

Lance Meyer accepted Oaks' award and said when he told Steve about it, Steve said he was very appreciative.