Deb and Chuck Hite Named 2020 Citizens of the Year
February 21, 2020


Members of the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce and the community gathered at The Shores at Five Island on Monday night, Feb. 17, to honor the recipients of the 2020 Emmetsburg Chamber Awards.

This year's Citizen of the Year award was presented to Deb Hite, Chamber Director, and husband Chuck Hite. Heavily involved in the community, Deb and Chuck have spent countless years serving the community.

Michael Jacobson of Iowa Trust and Savings Bank and Chamber Board President presented the 2020 Citizen of the Year award.

"Deb and Chuck have put in their time, talent, and energy in directing the Chamber, being involved in the Retail Association, promoting KEMB, welcoming people who are new to the community or just stopping by, and putting together events that showcase our great town of Emmetsburg.

Jacobson briefly described Deb and Chuck's merits.

"As Chamber Director, Deb goes beyond what is written in the job description. As one person stated, 'Some people will leave when their shift is over but she goes the extra step, willing to put in the time.' Chuck doesn't have a title or job description but is involved in almost every Chamber event we put on. He is a fix it man, the hauler, the mower, the setter-upper, and the tearer-downer. I believe he is also the assistant event planner and a bartender from time to time! He is a dedicated volunteer to this community."

The Hites received numerous nominations from the community. As one nomination pointed out, "Deb has taken on many roles and has always been a promoter of the community."

Another mentioned Deb's drive to better the community.

"Deb has been working to improve the town of Emmetsburg for as long as I can remember. Many things are part of her job but she doesn't stop there. She goes the extra step. This means hours and hours of extra volunteer work."

Upon accepting the award, Chuck had a few words to say to the gathered supporters.

"It's an honor to be picked as co-citizen with my wife," began Chuck. "When I was working all day in Algona, Deb would ride with me at night when I would make trips around the community. Now it's reversed, now I'm staying in. Now I'm riding with HER!"

Chuck discussed the variety in his duties and his appreciation for the work.

"It has definitely been fun helping with all the different things like BrewFest, RAGBRAI, and Iowa's Ride which is coming soon. I'm just glad I can help when and where I can. Thank you very much."

Taking the microphone, Deb first joked that she lost a bet, admitting she didn't think Chuck's speech would be as long as her own.

"Who would have thought?" Deb joked.

Thanking the supporters, Deb highlighted her time working with the community and the appreciation she felt towards those who offered their encouragement.

"Thank you to everybody. It has taken me three weeks to get comfortable being on the receiving end of this award. I am really humbled and I appreciate all the kind words. This is a special moment!"

The 2020 5 Under 40 awards went to individuals who have gone above and beyond for our community. This year's recipients were Bill Burdick, Jackie Hoch, Liz Reedy, and Matt and Erica Janssen.

"Bill cares a lot about his community and continually strives to make it better," said Andrew Fischer in his nomination for Burdick. "Since 2010, Bill has owned and operated Go Gutters in Emmetsburg and he continues to increase the size of his business. He now runs four full-time crews that see about 500 projects a year and will soon have the fifth truck on the road running in five states. Through his business, Bill has donated gutters to the Emmetsburg Police Department, The Shores at Five Island, and three VFW posts. Having served as an Emmetsburg City Councilman for eight years. Bill has served as a volunteer fireman for the past eight years and he credits his strong work ethic to his father.

Upon receiving his award, Bill offered, "I want to thank my family. Thank you, Andy, for nominating me. I really look forward to the future. Due to our great customers and employees, we are allowed to do this for everybody in town here. Thank you very much."

The next recipient of the 5 Under 40 award was Jackie Hoch, nominated by Jeremy and Jodi Ward.

According to the Wards, "Jackie offers exceptional service in daycare. Not many childcare providers offer the extended hours that Jackie does. As a single mother of a mentally challenged child, Jackie has a true understanding of the fears that parents have when looking for a childcare provider. Jackie believes in helping where she can. When a parent can't get away or doesn't have anyone to help, Jackie takes their kids to various activities like Cub Scouts, soccer, and Little League. Jackie also has also operated a nursery at the church for the past nine years."

In an emotional moment, Hoch graciously accepted the award and said, "I would just like to say thank you to my family."

Liz Reedy was another winner of the award, nominated by Martin Bergstrom, ER/Surgery Director at Palo Alto County Health System (PACHS).

"Liz is an employee at PACHS and has an integral part at the hospital as Inpatient/OB Director as well as doing the discharges, planning, and utilization reviews," began Bergstrom's nomination. "Liz is a very strong advocate for the patients in the community, making sure that they are able to get all of their needs met. When patients are transferred to a larger hospital, Liz makes sure that work is done to get them back home and on skilled care so the patient can be closer to their loved ones in the community. Certified to teach breastfeeding, Liz works with newborn mothers so that they can have the best experience with their babies. In her spare time, Liz helps with Auction Fest, provides for funerals as a ammeter of her church circle, teaches Certified Nursing Assistant classes, and helps with numerous other activities. Liz is a valuable community member who has pride in Emmetsburg and strives to make it a better place to live."

When accepting the award, Reedy stated, "I think I am going to follow suit and say thank you to my family and friends for coming. I also want to give a big thank you to Marty for nominating me and thinking I am worthy of such an award."

The final two recipients of the 5 Under 40 award were Matt and Erica Janssen, nominated by Stacy Besch.

According to Besch's nomination, "Just a little over two years ago, the Janssens took a risk not only to own a business in Emmetsburg, but took over an existing one which can sometimes come with more risk with perceptions and past ways of handling things. Matt has recently taken over the family farm and that commands much of his time while Erica operates the Willow Tree Garden Center where she can express her creativity, coming up with all sort of classes and events for all ages to enjoy. Erica was also instrumental in the success of lighting the courthouse tree by raising the money to purchase the LED lights. Just last week the Janssens also started a shipping business with Willow Tree offering UPS shipping. Matt and Erica always find ways to help wherever they can in the community."

Upon accepting the award, Erica said, "I would like to say thanks to the community for their support. We wouldn't be able to have a business without everybody's support. We want to give back as much as we can to our community and would just like to say thanks for all that you have done for us."

2020 was another year of seeing businesses join the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce.

"By the end of 2019 we had 130 Chamber members with 13 new businesses joining on an average of slightly over one new business per month," said Deb Hite, Chamber Director.

"At this time we would like to acknowledge our board. We have a top notch board and each one brings different strengths and ideas with them. This is what makes our Chamber such a success," Hite added.

This year the Chamber welcomed two new board members - Erica Janssen and Brandon Euler. They bring with them fresh new ideas and ways to accomplish them.

However, getting two new board members means that two previous members are leaving.

"Darrick Young has been on the board since 2010 and has recently accepted a job in another town and will be way too busy," Hite stated. "Mike Embrock will be giving up his tenure. We will miss his stories and many ideas."

The Chamber also gave out awards for volunteers. It takes everyone to be committed and involved in the Chamber to create programs and events for the community to rally around and enjoy. The winners of the Volunteer Award were Skip Wallace, Ty Harson, Scott Higgins and Mark Evans.

The MidAmerican Energy Catalyst Award for 2020 went to a group this year. The Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation (PACEDC) was the recipient of the Catalyst Award.

"The PACEDC has done so much to bring business to our county and to keep young people here," said Michael Jacobson. "With the revolving loan fund, the Internship Program, and many other programs, the PACEDC is an important part of the county and will continue to be into the future."


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