Nominees announced for annual Partner’s Dinner awards

BY PCC STAFF

FORT MADISON – The nominees for the awards presented at the Fort Madison Partners annual dinner were announced this week.

Awards will be given out at the annual dinner being held this year at McAleer Hall on Feb. 15, honoring the Community Developer of the Year, Ambassador of the Year and the Daily Democrat Citizen of the Year.

Nominations for each category and their nomination submissions are listed below.

Community Developer of the Year Nominees:
Matt Mohrfeld: For leading the effort to develop the marina. While not yet a fully funded project, his passion and efforts have been on display. While some might say…”that’s his job, he’s the Mayor”, his efforts have been more than that. Even if the project never comes to fruition, Matt’s work and drive encapsulates the meaning of “developer”. Also, his non-stop work ethic “growing” his greenhouse business and adding additional square footage to his already expanding brand.
Michael Ash/Moudy Nabulsi/Shottenkirk Family: For their multi-year long efforts to have an exceptional Fort Madison campus for SCC. Their leadership drove home the project, which combined creative funding tools, location flexibility, and creative design. Michael has had an expansive vision for the SCC “total package”, and Moudy has served the college and community for many, many years as Fort Madison’s rep on the Board of Trustees.
Asay Properties (Barb & Myles Asay): Since moving to Fort Madison, Barb & Myles have taken it upon themselves to invest in historic homes, many of which were in such a state of disrepair that many citizens had deemed them “not worth fixing”. They build these homes back to their former glory creating an eye catcher instead of the eyesore they once were, therefore adding to the taxable value. Barb has also donated her time to the Beautification Foundations Paint-A-Thon, proving that her love for these homes reaches far beyond the profit that can be made from “flipping” them. Barb and Myles are an asset to the community and we are lucky they chose Fort Madison as home.
ConAgra Foods: The ConAgra facility has been a staple in Fort Madison’s industrial base for over 40 years and has continued that commitment through taxable evaluation increases as well as employment opportunity for our residents of Fort Madison and surrounding communities. Through multiple changes in ownership, the local leadership have proven themselves in maintaining the commitment to our region as well as showing their leadership/ownership that the Fort Madison facility is worth the continued investment.

Ambassador of the Year
Chi Eastin: I am nominating Chi Eastin for Ambassador of the Year award. Her bringing Virtual Rail fan camera should be enough but then add Lake Cooper Loop and the many subtler things she does have had a big economic impact on our town.
Josh Ragar: I don’t think he’s missed an event or ribbon cutting. That kind of dedication personifies what being an Ambassador is all about. He’s informed, engaged and excited about each and every new opening. And uniquely interested in each and every new business or dedication or anniversary that we help recognize and celebrate.
Jess Sutcliffe is really making a name for herself in Fort Madison. She is very involved in all things Chamber related and is always quick to lend a helping hand. Jess has been pivotal in the formation of the Beautification Foundation and is passionate about making Fort Madison the best place it can be.  She encourages her staff to be involved and has formed a powerhouse of women in her office.
Darcie Uhlmeyer: I would like to nominate Darcie Uhlmeyer for Ambassador of the Year. She is involved in a myriad of community activities supporting Lee County. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Darcie is a leader in our community.  Darcie is also a leader at the Iowa Fertilizer Company, where she spearheads our involvement in the Paint-a-Thon, Food Pantry drives, highway cleanup, and the winter coat drive in partnership with the Rotary.  In IFCo’s early days she also coordinated construction crews for repairs at the United Way office and work at a Habitat for Humanity house. Darcie is a positive and visible force in our community.  The width and breadth of her local involvement far exceeds my limited knowledge. 

Daily Democrats Citizen of the Year award.
The Citizen of the Year Award is sponsored by the Fort Madison Daily Democrat. Created in the late 1980s, the award is designed to recognize a person that goes approve and beyond on a volunteer basis to improve the quality of life in the Fort Madison area.
Nominated for the award this year are (in alphabetical order) Donna Amandus, Derek Doherty, Pete Karczmarczyk and Chris Swed.
Donna Amandus was nominated by Linda Smith and members of the Canine Corral Committee.“In a world where people look at a glass and see it as half-empty or half-full, Donna Amandus sees the glass as half-full and decides she’ll find a way to fill it up! She sees any challenge as an opportunity to get the right people together at the right time, come up with a plan to meet that challenge, and lead the way to success,” they write in their letter nominating Amandus.
Case in point, they say, is Fort Madison’s dog park. Amandus approached city officials and told them that if they would give the designated one acre at Rodeo Park and fence it in, she put together volunteers and raise the money to make it happen.
She then raised the money through grants and contributions for sally gates, walkways, two shelter houses, trees, benches and more and the dog park opened on June 27, 2020.
While adding the finishing touches to the dog park, Amandus took on another project – to construct six pickle ball court at Victory Park in Fort Madison. She and co-chair Bev Brockman put together a committee and have raised $113,000 of the estimated $250,000 needed, with a couple of grants pending.
Derek Doherty: Derek Doherty, who is the head football coach at Fort Madison High School, was nominated by Michael Mohrfeld for his commitment and extra efforts.
“I have been following his efforts on and off the football field, what he has directly done for the football team has shown results on the field,” writes Mohrfeld. “However his dedication to the students off the field, in the weight room, supporting other sports and just overall positive attitude is admirable. He has chosen the #Family as his trademark, which speaks volumes about what he all about.”
In fact, Mohrfeld says this positive attitude has proven to be contagious.
“I find myself and many others now going to games filling the stands to support a program that he has created, very impressed with what they have built over the last several years,” he adds.
Pete Karczmarczyk: Pete was nominated by Dovie Britton for his many acts of kindness and volunteer efforts.
“If you are looking for a good citizen, he is your man. Need help? Call Pete,” writes Britton.
For example, Karczmarczyk plays Santa Claus at nursing homes, food markets and daycare facilities; walks his neighbor’s dog most days; cooks at the men’s breakfast at his church and helps in the church nursery; helps neighbors make repairs and removes snow from neighbors’ sidewalks; takes one neighbor’s kids to school; takes a friend each morning to coffee during the week; and helps his wife, Marty, make ‘fidget quilts’ for those in nursing homes.
Britton says Karczmarczyk is also the “director of drive-by shooting” at COVID vaccine drive-thru clinics for the Lee County Health Department; volunteers with Lee County Hospice; is a member of the Lincoln Neighborhood Watch group; and often a volunteer with the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
Chris Swed: Swed, who operates the Fox Theater and Swed & Co. on downtown Fort Madison with his wife Maddie, was nominated by Stephanie Brownlee.
“He brought excitement and growth in this town during the tough year we had. Though he is not from Fort Madison, he has made Fort Madison his home,” writes Brownlee in her nomination letter. “He believes in this town. Chris, with Jordan Reynolds, made the page “This is Fort Madison” to feature the beauty of this town. They have been working on that for over a year now. Chris Swed has truly brought life back into this town with the two businesses he runs in this community as well.”

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