Mason Times staff writer
Several awards were distributed Wednesday night at the Eldorado Golf Course Banquet Center during the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce awards dinner at 3750 W. Howell Road in Mason, Mich.
The chamber presented the following awards:
• Norm Austin, Citizen of the Year
• Kean’s Store Company, Excellence in Business
• Randy Powers and the Mason Orchestral Society, Special Recognition
• Vickie Vandenbelt, The President’s Award
• Anne Hudgins, Excellence in Education
A number of other residents were recognized for their contributions. Each time someone volunteered, their name was placed into a fish bowl. Those with five service hours or more were recognized at the banquet.
Powers was recognized first and the Special Recognition Award was presented to him by Chamber Treasurer Marlon Brown. “We do a lot of work to make Mason a nice place to live in,” Powers said during his acceptance speech.
Following Powers’ speech, Brown presented the second Special Recognition Award to The Mason Orchestral Society. While giving the award, Brown said the chamber was proud to recognize The Mason Orchestral Society “for enriching our community with music.”
Chamber President Andrew Serratelli presented The President’s Award to Vandenbelt. “It’s just fabulous to be honored this way,” Vandenbelt said.
Teresa Wren said Kean’s has done so well because three other businesses came to the store’s location which brought in a significant amount of traffic.
Superintendent Mark Dillingham of Mason Public Schools presented the Excellence in Education Award to Hudgins, who attended Mason Public Schools as a child and has taught in Mason for 20 years.
Mason Middle School Principal Daniel R. McConeghy introduced Hudgins and said: “She is a teacher-leader. She came in and made the library the center of our school. She gets kids to read books, plain and simple.”Hudgins thanked her parents for being the best teachers in her life, and said without her parents and their impact, she “wouldn’t be standing here today and certainly would not have become a teacher.”
Austin, who has been a Mason resident for his entire life, said during dinner, he found a fortune cookie on the table that read, “those who have love have wealth beyond measure.” Austin added that from all the love and hugs he received at the dinner, it must mean he’s, “the richest man in the country!”
While waiting in line to be photographed, Hudgins said, “It’s very special to be recognized by the place you went to school.”
According to the chamber and Mason community members, this city is growing where some places in the Lansing area are not, and several businesses still need support. “It’s like Norm Austin said, communities like this run off of volunteers and it’s important to recognize people in different areas,” Executive Director Doug Klein said following the event.