Buchanan celebrates past, present community members with awards banquet

BUCHANAN — With smiles as bright as the sun overhead, the Buchanan business community celebrated being together again as it hosted chamber awards Wednesday evening.

After last year’s annual chamber dinner was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Buchanan Area Chamber of Commerce opted to host this year’s event outdoors in the Buchanan Commons.

“The last 15 months have been a challenge, to say the least,” said emcee Ted Chase in his opening statements. “We saw businesses ask to close and limit the amount of customers they could serve. We saw our friends struggle through piles of legislations and new safety requirements as a minimum standard simply to conduct business. We saw many events and celebrations just like this one canceled.”

Chase pointed out that through extreme challenges, the Buchanan community as a whole rallied to stay strong.

“As the dad of two teenage daughters, I saw a school year filled with uncertainty, stuck in quarantine, day-long masking and social distancing requirements. I saw a senior year that did not look like it was supposed to, at least by my definition,” he said. “Now here’s the cool part: The kids met each obstacle with resilience they didn’t know they were capable of. They could have reacted many different ways. They chose to adapt and remain flexible, and find the positives through all of it. What a great lesson for all of us.”

He said the business community’s reaction to the pandemic mirrored the resilience students embodied.

“We saw our businesses and community leaders respond in great ways to help each other survive through what I hope is the toughest business climate they will ever face,” Chase said. “They chose to adapt and remain flexible, too.

“Heck, we were even voted the Nicest Place in America in the middle of a global pandemic,” he added, referring to the Readers Digest recognition bestowed upon the community last summer.

Rather than simply skipping a year’s worth of awards, the Buchanan Chamber and Buchanan Community Schools Hall of Fame opted to celebrate two years’ worth of award winners.

Awardees included:

  • 2019 BCS Hall of Fame Performance in School — James “Buzz” Busby
  • 2019 BCS Hall of Fame Contributions to Buchanan Community Schools — Michael Young
  • 2019 BCS Hall of Fame Contributions to Society, Jack Walkden
  • 2019 Dale E. Florey Volunteer of the Year, Wendy Murphy
  • 2019 BACC Business of the Year, Lehman’s Farmhouse
  • 2019 BACC Lifetime Achievement, Marvin Pruett
  • 2020 BCS Hall of Fame Performance in School — Coach Bob Storm and the 1985 baseball team
  • 2020 BCS Hall of Fame Contributions to Buchanan Community Schools — Lloyd Miller
  • 2020 BCS Hall of Fame Contributions to Society, James Jesse
  • 2020 BACC Dale E. Florey Volunteer of the Year, Richard Martin
  • 2020 BACC Business of the Year, River St. Joe
  • 2020 Young Professional, Brian Pruett
  • 2020 BACC Lifetime Achievement, Peter Lysy
  • 2020 BACC Organization of the Year, Michigan Gateway Community Foundation

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