September 13 – Macon County Sheriff Howard G. Buffett was announced as the Citizen of the Year during the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Chamber Awards.
Buffett was out of town and unable to attend Thursday’s event at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel, so former sheriff Tom Schneider accepted the award on his behalf.
“He’s a humble man and he doesn’t ask for anything in return, but he knows when these awards come to him they’re heartfelt and he appreciates it more than you could ever imagine,” said Schneider.
“Howard is the most giving person that you could ever come across and I think that he’s always looking for a way to make this community better. Me being able to be a part of anything to do with Howard, I consider a blessing.”
Millikin University received the Business Expansion Award. President Dr. Patrick White said the university’s growth helps Decatur and vice versa.
“We’re talking lately about Millikin momentum, about growth and change – not only the buildings but the growing in our student body and moving forward, adding sports and new majors,” said White. “Millikin is on the move and it’s because of Decatur’s support that we were able to get all this done.”
Mr. Softee’s Terri Chance was honored as the Entrepreneur of the Year.
“It’s truly an honor to be recognized among your peers in such a wonderful community as Decatur,” she said. “You never think that you would even be nominated for an award like this, so I truly do feel honor and I was truly shocked.”
Melanie Schelling State Farm received the Micro Business of the Year Award and Coziahr Harley-Davidson was recognized as Small Business of the Year. The award for Non-Profit of the Year went to Dove, Inc., while Crossing Healthcare was honored for Outstanding Development.
Stan Parks of the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois received the Decatur Leadership Institute Alumnus of the Year, with United Way executive director Debbie Bogle accepting on his behalf. Tom Pratt of Country Financial was named Chamber Ambassador of the Year.
The Citizen of the Year is selected by Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe, who pointed to the many results of Buffett’s philanthropy such as the Andreas Ag Academy, the “Heroes Hall” wing at the Children’s Museum of Illinois, the Nelson Park Ampitheater, and the recently announced $30 million Community Care Campus.
“It would be easy for him to write a check and go play golf,” she said. “Instead, he chose to make a difference with not only his treasure but with his time and his talent. We will probably never know how many lives have changed in his time with us.”
Schneider said Buffett’s nature would be to deflect credit from himself to the board and staff of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
“He will give them the recognition before anybody,” said Schneider. “Those of us that know how the operation works know that the actual Foundation workers themselves are constantly working to make sure that the world is a better place – it doesn’t just stop at the Macon County line.”
The event helped the Chamber celebrate Illinois Chamber of Commerce Week, which started Monday and concludes Friday.
“Chambers are dedicated to the business growth of their cities, acting as community organizers, liaisons between business communities and municipal governments, business advocates and more,” said Mirinda Rothrock, president of the Greater Decatur Chamber.
“At the heart of our wide-ranging activities is a dedication to community growth.”