The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet on Thursday evening at the Brownwood Coliseum, celebrating individuals and organizations from throughout the city.   

About 500 attendees packed the Coliseum floor and dined on food from Humphrey Pete’s as the Chamber gave awards like Ambassador of the Year, the Good Neighbor Award and the Citizen of the Year.   

Wendlee Broadcasting general manager Rex Tackett began the program just after 7 p.m., welcoming guests and thanking sponsors like 3M and Citizens National Bank. After an invocation from Rick Phelps, who served Thursday morning as the Pastor of the Day at the Texas State Capitol, Tackett introduced special guests in attendance including Judge John Bailey of the 11th Court of Appeals, Brown County judge Ray West and the Brownwood city government.   

The outgoing Chamber board president Daniel Hutson then recognized retiring board members and his successor, Donna Hair. Hair began the evening’s plaque presentations by awarding the graduating class of Leadership Brownwood.   

Brownwood mayor Stephen Haynes, after some playful back-and-forth verbal sparring with Tackett and a handful of jokes, then went through the evening’s main award presentations. The 2017 Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce banquet honorees were as follows:   

•    Ambassador of the Year: Dustin Larremore   

•    Stuart Coleman “Good Neighbor” Award: Keith Clark, Paul Coghlan and Brian Wade (posthumous)   

•    Small Business of the Year: Roberson Rent-All   

•    Medium Business of the Year: Texas Rock Crusher Railway   

•    Large Business of the Year: United Supermarkets   

•    Community Partner Award: Brownwood Lyric Theatre   

•    Volunteer of the Year: Grant Magness   

•    Professional of the Year: Nanda Wilbourn   

•    Woman of the Year: Mariann Tackett   

•    Man of the Year: Tim Espinoza   

•    Groner Pitts “Lifetime of Service” Award (Citizen of the Year): Margaret Coleman   

The evening grew emotional when Brian Wade’s children accepted his “Good Neighbor” award on his behalf. Wade passed away unexpectedly in November after years of generous volunteerism and exemplary work as a morning show host on KYXL.   

Margaret Coleman, too, received a loud ovation as she accepted her award. Coleman, a former Bulletin editor, was instrumental in the development of the Brownwood industrial district and in philanthropic efforts throughout the city. Her late husband Stuart was the award’s first recipient 10 years ago.