Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner held Thursday, awards presented

8 awards presented to local businesses and organizations

By Jeff Helfrich, Managing Editor
Posted 5/17/24

On Thursday, the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Dinner at the hangar at the Rochelle Municipal Airport. 

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Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner held Thursday, awards presented

8 awards presented to local businesses and organizations


ROCHELLE — On Thursday, the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Dinner at the hangar at the Rochelle Municipal Airport. 

The event saw remarks by Chamber Executive Director Tricia Herrera, Chamber Board President Kari Andrist, and Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows. Eight awards were presented to local businesses and organizations. 

"We have a lot to celebrate this evening," Herrera said. "2023 was another great year for our organization. We are thankful, grateful and honored to have an amazing group of members. We can't wait to see what this year brings us and we look forward to looking back on all we've accomplished."

Andrist presented the Family Business of the Year award to Seldal Properties for its years of service and making an investment in rebuilding portions of Rochelle's residential and commercial areas.

"They're now involving a second generation in the day-to-day operations of their business and that signifies that they'll be around for years to come," Andrist said. "We know they'll continue to step up for Rochelle and we're proud to have them in our membership."

The Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Krystyn Mellor, owner of 4th & Willow and Wallyswishes, which create custom crafts, home decor, signs, tumblers, shirts and more. 

"She is never afraid to try a new type of project," Chamber Board Vice President Haley Brill said. "She plans for future growth, all while raising four beautiful children. She never stops helping to lift up other home-based artisans and makes sure she's in their corner and they will be successful with hard work."

The Small Business of the Year award was presented to CheeseKake Ko. by Chamber Board Member Matt Gerard. 

"Many enjoyed their delicious creations before the business was even its own business," Gerard said. "They've come so far in just a short time. Their treats can be enjoyed throughout many locations in Northern Illinois, and they never disappoint. We can't wait for your next expansion and we know it will be a success."

The Restaurant of the Year award was presented to Rosati's Pizza by Chamber Board Member Kris Wexell. 

"They've established a reputation of being a part of small-town traditions," Wexell said. "It's a place where families can enjoy a meal and conversation in their recently-expanded location."

The Retailer of the Year award was presented to The Cypress House by Chamber Board Member Jeff Fiegenschuh. 

"Their team is always striving to do more, provide more and bring more to Rochelle," Fiegenschuh said. "They're always giving opportunities to young crafters and startup businesses that add so much to their events. Growing and expanding is their goal and their markets have become a destination for so many coming to our community."

Little Hubs Learning Center was presented the Welcome to Rochelle award by Chamber Board Member Josh Williams. The city was without a daycare center for multiple years before Little Hubs opened its doors.

"The chamber office fielded daily calls about what residents could do for daycare and we had very limited answers," Williams said. "The Spartz family stepped up and took the lead. Our youth once again have a safe, reliable place and our workforce has peace of mind."

The Community Partner award was presented to 102.3 The Coyote/SuperHits 93.5 by Chamber Executive Assistant Rosario Herebia. 

"They host several community-focused events throughout the year," Herebia said. "We're extremely fortunate to have such a strong media partner in them, which reaches out beyond our community to show all that we have here."

Herrera presented the Director's Award to the group of volunteers that puts on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival each year. 

"These volunteers put in countless hours of work," Herrera. "They spend those hours year-round planning this event. They are always striving to keep attendees in mind and make sure that they have the best time making memories. The weekend of the festival, they're working, planning, scheduling, selling tickets, hauling tables, chairs and signage, and praying for the right weather. They do it for no other reason than love of the community and its residents."

During the event, Herrera honored City of Rochelle Industrial Development Manager Peggy Friday, who will soon be retiring, for her service to Rochelle-area businesses over the years. Friday was a previous Chamber director.

"She worked hard to make the chamber into an organization full of pride, community spirit, and dedication to its members," Herrera said. "She has mentored so many young professionals in our community today. Rochelle would be a very different place without her."

The night was brought to a close by Bearrows, who thanked many in the audience for their contributions to Rochelle's business community.

"Congratulations to all of the award winners and thank you to all of our local businesses," Bearrows said. "Small businesses are the backbone of our community. Without the small businesses, there's no need for the city."