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Hamilton County Chamber Dinner Awards Locals

Three awards are given out at the Hamilton County Chamber of Commerce Dinner every year to very deserving and outstanding individuals/businesses, and this year was no exception.

Tequila Mexican Restaurant was the winner of the Business of the Year award. Justin Drake shared that, “One of the first restaurants in Hamilton County that helped establish us. Whether in the restaurant or in one of their two food trucks, Sal and his staff always provide great service at local events. But just like all businesses, Tequila believes in giving back to the community with their time and effort with supporting our local schools and organizations.” Salvador Tapia, accepted the award and thanked the community and Chamber for the opportunity to grow within the community.

Justin Drake with the Business of the Year winner Tequila (Sal Tapia)

The Ted Satterfield award is given to an individual who has demonstrated commitment to the betterment of Hamilton County through local business and community activities. Mike Harre was recipient of the special award. Harre shared a few words, “One thing I remember about Ted Satterfield was that he was always positive about his community.” Harre continued with discussing the importance of supporting one another not just in business but within the community. “Always ask yourself, what did you do for Hamilton County today? I’m proud to accept this and thank you.”

Mike Harre accepting the Ted Satterfield Award.


Twice elected Chamber President Sam Wilson presented the last award of the night, the Civic Community Service Award. Wilson explained, “There are a lot of community service groups in our community, but there is one that has been making waves lately in the past five years with putting new ideas in the community. I am proud to give this award to the Women’s Leadership Council of Hamilton County.” Letitia Wiggins and Chelsea Miller, who help make up the organization, accepted the award. Wiggins described how it came to fruition.

“Hi everyone, my name is Letitia Wiggins.  Thanks for the opportunity to be here tonight.  When we received this award, we were very surprised.  So I’m a founding board member of the Women’s Leadership Council of Hamilton County.  In the winter of 2017, several of us were returning home to Hamilton County, coming off being in college and post-secondary education, beginning our careers and starting our families.  Collectively, we realized we were missing the civic involvement that we were able to engage in in college.  Things like sororities, student government that were part of our everyday lives.  But when we returned home, there weren’t the same opportunities.  There are several organizations that do great things, but their structure doesn’t fit for a new mom so we couldn’t make 7am meetings or 6pm meetings.  We were getting kids ready for day care or making dinner and doing bedtime routines.  So we decided we’d form our own organization and embrace the challenges of young motherhood and young careers and try to give back to our community.  So we held meetings on Friday nights with pizza and we worked at the kitchen table while the kids played.  And still to this day, that’s our typical structure.  One of the first things we did was bring back Challenge Saturdays.”

The Women’s Leadership Council came up with “Imagination Library.” Wiggins stated that the organization held a Halloween Hustle 5k, which fully funded the library for 2024. Chelsea Miller gave more insight into the fun world of books.

“So the Imagination Library has been a labor of love.  We launched the Imagination Library in Hamilton County in the fall of 2019.  It was originally established in 1995 through Dolly Parton and the Dollywood Foundation.  Through funding provided by the Women’s Leadership Council each month, the Imagination Library provides a book to each child age 0 – 5 signed up a free, high quality book.  If the child is enrolled at birth, they could receive 60 books by the time they graduate at age 5.  As of last month, we’ve mailed more than 6,000 books to children of Hamilton County.  We currently have 195 children enrolled and about 100 have already graduated.”

To close out the night, the Chamber thanked and awarded Mindi Kolts for all her years of service to the Chamber board. They also thanked the many sponsors for this years Chamber dinner: The Heritage Place/Cindy Horacek Venue, Irvin’s Jewelry Hidden Gems, Ferrell Hospital McLeansboro Family Medicine Registration, The Liquor Hut Social Hour, Esther Bloom Photography Photo Booth, Lasting Impressions Decorations, and Terry Wells Event Music.


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