Members of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce recently donned jeans, boots and 10-gallon hats to recognize their own.
The chamber hosted its Gold Rush Celebration at the International Independent Showmen's Association in Riverview, where six annual award winners were named and a new board installed.
"Looking back over the past year, the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce experienced substantial growth, huge honors and established new relationships in our community," said Tanya Doran, executive director. "Working together we make a difference, thanks to our members and especially to those winning awards tonight. The entire Riverview community should be excited when thinking about what our future holds."
Doran was referring to the addition of more than 250 members, swelling the chamber's ranks to about 550. For the first time in years, the chamber was profitable and is now comfortably in the black. Also, Money Magazine ranked Riverview 65th in its top 100 best places to live, based on U.S. towns from 50,000 to 300,000 in population. Riverview's current population, based on the 2010 census, is 73,500.
The key to Riverview was turned over to Elijah Heath of Edward Jones Investments by outgoing honorary mayor Lisa Kennedy of Alley Cat Pest Control. Heath raised more than $2,500 for the Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview Foundation, beating out Mary Boyd of C1 Bank and Molly Blanton of the Boy Scouts of America – Gulf Ridge Council.
Kennedy was later recognized as Business Person of the Year.
Hess Orthodontics was named Business of the Year Award, and Dr. Bryan Thatcher was recognized as Citizen of the Year.
Alison Farnan of Grimebusters Pressure Cleaning received the Margy Watkins Volunteer of the Year Award; newcomer Randy Ramos of Riverview Plumbing received the chamber's Shining Star Award; and Joe Eletto of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises took Ambassador of the Year honors.
The gala also included an address by Earl Lennard, former Hillsborough County supervisor of elections and school superintendent, and a passing of the gavel of leadership from outgoing President Ed Booth of Huth & Booth Photography to incoming President Donna Lee Fore of P.F. Auto Glass Inc.
Before handing over the reins to Fore, Booth reviewed the chamber's progress during his tenure last year and praised the chamber members, in particular Doran, for what he called a "fabulous" year. Highlights included the chamber's membership growth and financial turnaround; the largest turnout ever for Trick or Treat Street, the chamber's signature event; the new teacher breakfast that welcomed 300 area teachers; the recognition of 26 area teachers of the year; and the growth of the Taking Care of Business networking group.
Already the chamber is looking forward.
"The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce has an exciting year planned," Doran said. "I'm looking forward to working with the new board and will be seeking to bring more value to members and the Greater Riverview community. We will launch a Military Affairs Team to be led by President-elect Joe Eletto and a new Economic Development Team organized by Dr. Bryan Thatcher.
"It is an exciting time for our community," she continued. "As executive director of the chamber, I envision 2013 to be our best year in our 47-year history."