The Platteville Regional Chamber held its 53rd annual Celebration and Art Virtue Awards in the UW–Platteville Ullsvik Hall Velzy Commons Friday night.
Recognition was given to chamber members having five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of consecutive membership, as well as the 25 charter members of the chamber.
The annual Virtue Awards, named for Art Virtue, the Chamber’s first president in 1963:
Junior Community Spirit Award: The Key Club, Platteville High School’s community service club, has 45 members who meet monthly at 7:15 a.m. as well as volunteer their time and services in many ways in our school and community. The club this year hosted two Kid’s Night Out events for second- through sixth-graders at PHS, with basketball, dodge ball, tag, crafts, a coloring contest and board games. Members have also volunteered at Ben’s Hope 5K, the Run from the Cops 5K, the Grant County Coalition Against Homelessness Chili Dinner and Dairy Days at the Kiwanis concession stand. At the beginning of the school year the club organized an all-school book drive and collected more than 100 books to distribute at the Platteville Public Library. Last year after the earthquake in Nepal the club raised money by making and selling Mother’s Day coupon books. The Key Club is currently planning an all school community service day on April 27, including helping to weed and spray invasive species in Katie’s Garden, doing a highway cleanup, visiting local nursing homes and Platteville Senior Center, picking up local parks, and volunteering to help out in the local daycares and working with kids in other Platteville schools.
Community Spirit Award: UW–Platteville Campus Programming and Relations offers a diverse educational, cultural, social, and recreational entertainment for UW–Platteville students, staff, faculty, as well as the surrounding community. The Welcome Weekend Committee runs the 15-year-old Welcome Weekend, which is a recognized state leader and a regionally recognized award-winning collaborative effort to welcome more than 1,600 first-year students and helping get them connected to the Platteville community. The chamber has a strong tie with the CPR office and working relationship in such events as the chamber’s Southwest Music Fest (formerly Hometown Hog Roast), the chamber Golf Outing, Welcome Weekend, Family Weekend, Homecoming, and the Community Leadership Alliance.
Community Service Award: Barb Browning has been a volunteer coordinator for the American Red Cross for more than 20 years, organizing Bloodmobiles in January, April, June and September, where she donates. She also helped organize the first Platteville Relay for Life in 1985, and has been part of what now is the Grant County Relay for Life since then, helping run the concession stand that feeds more than 400 people and running the Survivor Dinner of 90 to 100 cancer survivors.. Browning was a member of the Platteville Business Women’s Club until it disbanded more than 25 years ago. She worked as a beautician for 28 years, and now works for K&K Floors. She chaired the O.E. Gray Chili Supper fundraisers for the school. She has been a Boy Scout leader and has a son who is an Eagle Scout.
President’s Award for Outstanding Chamber Service: Ann Rupp, sales manager of The Platteville Journal, has been on the chamber board of directors for six years. She has been a member of the Business Promotions Committee for nearly 25 years, helping organize Hometown Festival Week, New Student Welcome, Santa Bucks, Santa’s Arrival and Lighting of the Community Holiday Tree, Business Holiday Open House, Small Business Saturday, Holiday Window Decorating Contest and now Derby Days. Rupp chairs the chamber’s Education Committee, which puts on seminars, lunch-and-learns, workshops and the new Good Morning Platteville, a monthly “coffee chat” on important issues the community is facing. Rupp created the Chamber Update page the first Journal of each month to promote chamber initiatives and events.
Outstanding Award in the Field of Agriculture: Kieler Farms was started in 1947 when Lawrence and Joe Kieler purchased the original home farm in the Dickeyville bottoms. The farm now consists of 450 milking cows and 300 beef cow–calf pairs, along with 2,500 acres of hay, corn and soybeans. Louie Kieler, son of Lawrence and Ruth, is now the farm general manager, with wife Ann handling accounting and paperwork and harvest meal delivery. George, Louie’s brother, is a veterinarian at Platteville Veterinary Clinic with wife Jackie and takes care of animal care, including breeding, feet work, and feed rations. Eric, Louie and Ann’s son, is in charge of farm equipment, while Eric’s wife, Leah, takes care of employee scheduling and training. Renee, Louie and Ann’s daughter, is in charge of feeding the milking herd, while husband Matt takes care of feeding of replacement stock beef and Holstein steers, and is in charge of farm carpentry.
Business Persons of the Year: Dan Rohrbach has been CEO of Southwest Health since 2011. Since he has been CEO, Southwest Health has recruited many key staff and physicians, added new diagnostic imaging technologies, and exciting additions and expansions to services. The hospital increased from two employed physicians to 29 employed providers and from 395 staff members to more than 500 employees. New and expanded services include the Women’s Center, Orthopedic Institute, Eye Center, Pharmacy, Platteville Clinic, and The Edge athletic health facility. Southwest Health took over EMS services from the City of Platteville in 2015 and is planning a new EMS facility on its campus. Southwest Health emergency visits grew by more than one-sixth, while patient satisfaction increased from less than 60 percent to more than 90 percent in 2015. Rohrbach is a board member of the Platteville Area Industrial Development Corp., and volunteers with the UW–Platteville Pioneer Basketball Booster Program and as a fifth- through eighth-grade youth basketball coach.
Lifetime Service Award: Joe Kopp, a Platteville native, has supported efforts promoted by Building Platteville for many years, donating money for two of the four light poles in City Park and purchasing a light pole on Main Street when Main Street was reconstructed in 2008. He led the construction of the base of the 250-foot-long Vietnam Moving Wall when it visited in 2009. He was part of the Veterans Honor Roll committee, purchasing a bench in honor of his family members who are veterans, and serves on its Maintenance Committee. He has been the parade marshal for Dairy Days, and marshaled the Disney Parade in 1998 and the All-Veterans parade in 2009. Kopp has been a chamber member since 1995, receiving the President’s Award for Outstanding Chamber Service in 2005, and is a member of the Chamber’s Buildings and Grounds Committee. He designed and help build the gazebo in Katie’s Garden in 2004, and spent hundreds of hours helping create the garden. He was part of a team that watered and fertilized the hanging flowers on Main Street every day for four months this past summer.
Outgoing board members Tim Boldt of Pioneer Ford Sales and Aaron Cullen of Honkamp Krueger & Co. were honored, as was outgoing president Mike Olds.