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Ron Hersom Honored As Charles A. Hughes Citizen of the Year

By Staff | Feb 17, 2009

2009 CITIZEN OF THE YEAR – Ron Hersom was named the 2009 Charles A. Hughes Citizen of the Year at the annual Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce Banquet held Friday evening, Feb. 13, at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg. Hersom was nominated for the honor by Phil and Ann Stillman. Pictured (from left) are Ann Stillman; Susan Clark, Chamber of Commerce office administrative assistant; Phil Stillman; Ron Hersom; and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cecilia Miller. – Lori Hall photo

“When I got the congratulatory letter, I was amazed at the things I’ve done, things I hope to continue doing,” said Ron Hersom. “I never thought for one second that it was meaning so much to the public, it was just something that I thought I should do and needed to be done. I’m very appreciative and very honored.”

Hersom was officially recognized as the Charles A. Hughes Citizen of the Year during the 2009 Annual Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce Banquet held Feb. 13, at the Emmetsburg campus of Iowa Lakes Community College.

“I have lived all my life in Palo Alto County except my years in college and military service. I lived the past 29 years here in Emmetsburg, and have been married to my lovely wife Roberta for 28 of those years,” said Hersom, who expressed his appreciation to everyone assembled for the honor.

Hersom challenged those present. “I drive along Broadway and down Main Street and I remember years past, what we had in town with JCPenney’s and Anthony’s, Brennan’s Electric, Mary’s Style Shop, the shoe store, the Squire Shoppe, Beebe’s Clothes, the Gambell’s store, and Wigdahl’s. We have those vacancies, and I know we’ve had other businesses come into town to pick up the slack, but that doesn’t mean that we can relax,” said Hersom. “We need to continue to struggle to bring businesses to town and families in. So, I’d like to challenge all of you here. Continue to work and make progress on these goals.”

The honoree continued, “Martin Luther King had a speech and his was a dream. We have members of our community that proclaim a vision. Let us all join in those visions and those dreams. We can be better and continue to grow. I hope that all of us can join together, hand in hand, to do all this.”

Ron Hersom was nominated as Citizen of the Year by Phil and Ann Stillman.

“When Ann and I heard on the radio one day that they were looking for nominees for the Citizen of the Year Award, Ann turned to me right away and said ‘I know a person who would be perfect for that’. So, we got busy and put down a few things on paper,” said Phil Stillman. “Our nominee is very visible in the community; he’s a leader in many organizations.”

Stillman noted that Hersom is Commander of VFW Post #2295, directing all activities of the organization, including fundraising, grant writing, and directing services for his fallen comrades and presenting flags to the families at funerals. He also organizes the program for Memorial Day at the lake and at Evergreen Park, and arranges the Veterans Day Program at the VFW Post Home.

“Anywhere veterans are around, he’s there among them leading,” Stillman added.

Hersom was also very active in getting the Veterans Memorial Park located on South Broadway, having the statues erected and organizing the dedication ceremony at the memorial. Also, he has been active in sponsoring military packages that have been delivered to U.S. troops currently stationed abroad.

“As Director of Veterans Affairs for Palo Alto County, he has helped hundreds of veterans secure medical services through the Veterans Administration, including pensions and transportation to medical appointments, “ Stillman stated.

Hersom is a member of Holy Family Catholic Church where he serves as a community minister and usher, and is active in the Knights of Columbus and as a member of Kiwanis.

Board of Directors

Rick Jones has served as president of the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for three consecutive years.

“Truly, I want thank everyone for coming out here and for your attendance,” said Jones. “We understand that sometimes it’s difficult, because of these trying economic times, to write that check out for the Chamber dues or for the support of the radio station. And I just want to thank our Board of Directors who have been great.”

Current members of the board of directors includes Rick Jones, Iowa Trust & Savings Bank/Pronto Car Wash; Greg Hoyman, Hughes Pharmacy; Jay Jurrens, Emmetsburg Community Schools; Deb Knight, Wellness Center/Iowa Lakes Community College; Teresa Saxton, Saxton’s Greenhouse & Flowers; Doug Welander, Laurens State Bank; Mary Cooper, Dan Cooper Builders; Michelle James, Look Who’s Stamping; Dan McCain, Emmetsburg Publishing Company; Nancy Janssen, K. Jackson & Co./Randy’s Repair; Brent McAllister, Prairie States Management Co.; Audrey Niemann, Wild Rose Casino; and Cecilia Miller, Executive Director of the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce.

Outgoing board members were honored for their time on the board, including Diana Parisi, Willow Ridge/PACHS, and Jean Reedy, Emmetsburg Eye Clinic.

Welcome Center volunteers were honored for their contributions, as well. Volunteers include Louise Harrison, Ginger Blatchford, Myrna Heddinger, Kaye Curran, Bev Norland, Pat Steffen, and Mary C. Parsons. The Chamber Office’s administrative assistant, Susan Clark, was recognized. Above & Beyond Sponsors This year’s Above & Beyond Sponsors include Poet Bio-Refining, Martin-Mattice Funeral Home, AGP, Emmetsburg Care Center, Iowa Telecom, Super 8 Motel, Look Who’s Stamping, KW Electric, Johnson Realty, and Ron’s Matting & Framing. Emmetsburg Retail Association Emmetsburg Retail Association co-chairs Deb Hite and Laura Blanchet recognized several individuals for their efforts. “The Emmetsburg Retail Association had a phenomenal year,” said Deb Hite. “What all the success boils down to is a lot of hard work and dedication by our members.” Hite mentioned Retail Association members Hardware Hank, Hughes Pharmacy, NAPA Auto Supply, Wentzel’s True Value/Just Ask Rental Center, Pizza Ranch, Saxton’s Greenhouse, Kliegl’s Enchanted Garden, McNally’s Bake Shop, Creative Stitches, The Glass Shop, Etc., Iowa Trust & Savings Bank, Laurens State Bank, A Heavenly Celebration, Look Who’s Stamping, K. Jackson & Co., Emmetsburg Food Pride, Main Street Memories Mall, and the Calico Cupboard. Hite also thanked sustaining members, who offer “behind the scenes” help, including the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce, The Emmetsburg Reporter and Democrat, Nelson’s Cabinn, Dr. Dan and Jean Reedy, Hughes, Brennan & Wirtz, Tom and Cindy Lee, Wells Fargo Bank, Dan Cooper Builders, Wild Rose Casino, Poet Bio-Refining, Randy’s Repair, and St. Pat’s Irish Gift Shop. Supporting members are Craig and Kathy Merrill, Y100, Celtic’s Beverage, and Hometown Convenience. Laura Blanchet recognized Cecilia Miller, Rosemary Matthews, Steve Heldt, Teresa Saxton, Greg Hoyman, Jane Whitmore, Dan McCain, and Amy Williams for their contributions throughout the year. KEMB-LP 94.1 FM Radio Jennifer Meyer, KEMB-LP station manager, urged all present to challenge themselves with “change” and noted that KEMB-LP has been providing coverage of change throughout the community for four and one-half years. Meyer thanked the financial supporters of the radio station and acknowledged radio board members for their efforts (Brent McAllister, John Schad, Lee Beem, Ron Seaman, and Greg Hoyman) as well other radio volunteers: Stephanie Larson, Rich and Lori Hall, Dennis Benjamin, Brent McAllister and Rick Jones, Bill Bramley, Jay Jurrens and Emmetsburg High School sports announcers Travis Ring and Lucas Thompson, the Sesquicentennial Radio Theater readers, and the Smarts Broadcast Systems staff.