The dinner attracted about 400 guests from Sparks and Reno, some of whom have been members for nearly the chamber’s entire existence.
“It’s wonderful to have the Sparks Chamber,” said Sparks Councilman Ron Schmitt. “They’ve done a wonderful job. I appreciate them supporting the city.”
For many, the dinner at John Ascuaga’s Nugget was a commemoration of the chamber’s past successes in incorporating local businesses and creating sponsorships for various programs.
The Peppermill Hotel Casino was announced as the chamber’s 1,000th member, proof of its continuing expansion, according to Executive Director Len Stevens.
One of the chamber’s defining qualities, according to Second Judicial District Court Judge Steve Elliot, is its ability to open the doors among the business community.
He said having the chamber “is a blessing, so to speak. It’s a chance to meet and network (with other members and businesses).”
Pete Copeland, the 2008 chamber president, thanked outgoing 2007 president Elaine Alexander, for her contributions this past year. Alexander said being president is different from serving as a member of the board of directors for the chamber.
“You’re supposed to be the boss of Len (Stevens),” she said. “You’re supposed to keep his attitude up and ... have his back.”
Megan Kiley of Kiley Ranch won the Member of the Year award.
“Her passion and enthusiasm is second to none,” Copeland said in presenting the award to Kiley. “She organized a trip to China for 400, which in itself is an exhausting task.”
Kiley said upon accepting the award, “I’m already planning the next trip,” joking about how it would be a trip to the moon.
Northern Nevada Business Weekly won Business of the Year for its work in providing the chamber’s members free copies of its newsletter, Quarterly Pulse, and for all the advertising revenue it generated during the past year.
Bully’s Bar and Grill earned the Community Spirit award for supporting students in the community.
Non-Profit of the Year winner Hot August Nights shared its accolades with the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows for reaching out to kids in the community.
Morrey Distributing Company accepted the Lifetime Achievement award for its support of UNR’s women’s boxing program and the Children’s Miracle Network.
Other honorees at Tuesday’s dinner were acknowledged for their service to the chamber.
Mike Hix and Tom Burrous received plaques for their commitment as chamber board members. Larma Volk was awarded Conductor of the Year for her presence at business ribbon cuttings and visiting new members.
The evening was not without its comedy. Meteorologists Mike Alger of KTVN Channel 2 and Dave Finley of KTVN Channel 4 emceed the event, cracking jokes about Reno’s temperatures in comparison to Bush’s ratings and poking fun at each other.
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, a former bank employee, also got a laugh from the crowd when Stevens announced he owed the Sparks mayor $20 from years ago. Called up to the stage, Martini received his large “check” from the chamber that had “insufficient funds” stamped across it.
Local musician James Cavanaugh provided musical entertainment while video presentations, featuring the chamber’s 2007 in review and reflections by former chamber presidents and board members.
Stevens expressed appreciation for its collaboration with the City of Sparks.
City officials said they hope to continue a successful relationship with the chamber.
City Manager Shaun Carey said after the event, “It’s a great 30-year history. We have great business connections and great members.”