Houston gathered Saturday night to honor a Houston businessman and recognize the accomplishments of its outgoing mayor. The occasion was the annual Houston Area Chamber of Commerce banquet at the community building on North U.S. 63.
A large crowd gathered – one of the biggest in several years – saw Carl Honeycutt honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award,” which is the organization’s top honor. Honeycutt operated the Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealership first from downtown Houston and later on South Sam Houston Blvd. until it closed last year. Honeycutt oversaw the business beginning in 1965, and he was involved in many community organizations and service to the town over more than four decades.
Houston Mayor Steve Hutcheson, leading city government since 1999, was honored for his efforts to move the community forward. Hutcheson leaves office in April after deciding not to seek re-election.
Hutcheson administered the oath of office to the chamber’s slate of officers for the coming year. They are: Bill Bridges, Texas County Memorial Hospital, president; Rick Vermillion, Big Country 99, first vice president; Tammy Cantrell, Texas County treasurer-collector, second vice president; Eric Wells, Landmark Bank – Houston president, treasurer; Gayla Bratton, Infinite Entertainment, secretary; Kevin McGowen, Pepsi; Travis Rector, Wal-Mart Supercenter manager; and Scott Roberts, Houston High School administrator, board members. Conway Hawn of Anderson & Hawn serves as an ex-officio member.
KYTV meteorologist Brandon Beck was master of the ceremonies for the event that also saw the Rev. Harold Bruening of First Baptist Church honored as volunteer of the year. Two also were recognized for recent expansions in their businesses, Paws and Claws, which relocated to downtown Houston last year; and Media Professionals Inc., which began operation of additional radio stations in southern Missouri.
The City of Houston’s table – which featured a kinetic contraction – took the “People’s Choice for Best Decorated Table Award.”
Kirk Elmquist, a partner in Morelock-Ross Builders in Springfield, encouraged those attending to move Houston forward in 2011, making a goal to change themselves, their business and community in 105 days. Elmquist, a vice president of sales and marketing with the St. Louis Cardinals from 2004 to 2009 who has family ties to Houston, encouraged the crowd of about 200 to lead with a positive attitude in their organizations to improve their personal and professional lives.
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by Leon Slape, a pianist who is the superintendent of the Plato School District. He recently recorded a CD of his favorite works. Attendees participated in a silent auction with proceeds benefiting the chamber, whose roots to the community date to 1906.