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Newton Chamber honors members with awards

Thursday evening, the Newton Chamber of Commerce celebrated its first annual Business Awards at the Newton Enterprises Innovation Center, located at 403 W. Fourth St. N.

The Chamber threw the party to honor the achievements of Chamber members. Many members were pleased with where the Chamber was going. Bob O’Brich left the Chamber years ago, but has recently returned because of the direction the Chamber was heading.

“I left about eight years ago,” O’Brich said. “I rejoined because they promote Newton.”

Many other Chamber members agreed with O’Brich. Rather than just attending ribbon cutting ceremonies, the Chamber actively works with the community. Leland Smith used to serve on the Chamber Board and was very pleased with the event.

“It’s a fantastic thing what the Chamber is doing,” Smith said.

Chamber Director Darrell Sarmento was one of the members who helped organized the event. He said his wife could not make the event because of illness, but knew how important the awards meant to the community.

“We support each other and promote the city,” Sarmento said. “We want to make Newton a great place to work.”

Annette West is a Chamber member and is happy with the way things are going.

“You make friends,” said West. “The Chamber helps connect to the city.”

Here are the winners of the 2012 Newton’s Chamber of Commerce Business Awards:

• Curb Appeal: Newton Village

• Non-Profit Achievement: Center for Arts & Artists

• Social Media Award: Jasper County Historical Museum

• Marketing Award: Skiff Medical Center

• Retail Award for Small Business: Just Fabulous Darling

• Retail Award: Hy-Vee

• Staff Development: Newton Manufacturing Company

• Community Champion: First Newton National Bank

Although not everyone won an award, some won runner-up prizes. Susan Grigsby of Shay’s Tea Room won runner-up and was very proud.

“(I’m) Thrilled to win runner-up for an award,” said Grigsby. “It’s good to feel appreciated.”

Before the award ceremony, Chamber members were treated to a dinner donated by fellow Chamber members. Businesses such as Hy-Vee and Dominos Pizza donated food for the event. Kristine Reeder of Hy-Vee said she had seen Chamber membership grow in recent years. Even the lighting and sound equipment was provided by Chamber member C.J. Fox of The Lighting Sound Projection Store.

“Really well organized,” Fox said of the event. “I wish they had more events at this location.”

The location he was talking about is the Newton Enterprises Innovation Center. It was an iconic part of Newton before Maytag left and many Chamber members were happy to see it in use.

“It’s a nice event for everyone to get together and talk about business,” said Chamber Ambassador Pam DeBruyn. “What they do ... it’s kind of nice.”

The Chamber is also having a ribbon cutting ceremony today to honor a new gift shop opening at Skiff Medical Center. In addition, the Chamber invited all members to the 80th anniversary of the First Newton National Bank. Tom Vanderlaan is the Executive Director of the Newton YMCA and acknowledged his fellow members hard work.

“There are a lot of good people here,” Vanderlaan said. “The people here is why Newton is great.”

Matthew Shepard can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 425 or via email at

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