Chamber Awards and Annual Meeting

31st Annual Dinner Meeting is a Wrap!   April 6   link to Special Edition Newsletter about the meeting

New Chamber newsletter April 23      Chamber Connection April 23_2018

The 31st Annual Pike County Chamber of Commerce Annual  Meeting & Dinner was held Thursday, March 22nd at the Crossroads Center in Pittsfield.  The meeting was attended by close to 100 Chamber members, guests, city and village officials, and members of the media.  Networking and social time began at 6:00 PM, with dinner and the program immediately following.  A delicious catered meal was provided by the Crossroads Center.  Adrianna White took the great photos you will see in this newsletter and online.

Chamber Board president Beth White conducted the business meeting.  Minutes from the previous year were approved and the financials placed on file. Susan Chenoweth was nominated and approved as a new member of the Chamber Board, representing Illini Community Hospital. 

Our 2017 Annual Report was distributed, which recaps highlights from our year.  Chamber highlights were shared via a new tactic-video.

The Chamber’s 2018 sponsors were recognized at the meeting and a PowerPoint presentation containing a thank-you message and their logos ran as a continuous loop throughout the social hour and dinner.  We recognize our 2018 sponsors throughout the year, and in a special location here on our website.  Check it out here. 

The highlight of the evening is always the awards ceremony.  Each year the Chamber presents a  Business of the Year, Volunteers of the Year, and Community Betterment Awards.  The recipients of all of the awards were selected from nominations made by chamber members and the community at large.  There were a number of nominations for each award. The Fickle Goddess of Fortune made her ninth appearance. Scroll down to read more about this special traveling awards.

We believe strongly that each person or business nominated was worthy and we hope they feel honored to be recognized by their peers.  Our awards ceremony presentation shared the key points from their nomination submissions.  It was clear that volunteerism and business is alive and well in Pike County.  

Our Awards:

The Business of the Year recognizes a successful Pike County business that has demonstrated integrity
and community involvement.

The Volunteer of the Year can be any Pike County resident who volunteers his or her time to support Pike County and his or her community.

The ninth annual Community Betterment Award is intended to recognize the contribution of an
individual or group of individuals whose vision and actions have bettered the city or village in which they live.

The Fickle Goddess of Fortune is a traveling award bestowed upon a business we feel fortunate to have in the county.  She made her 9th appearance this year. 

Our 2017 Nominees (recognized at our 2018 meeting):

Business of the Year

        Free Press Coffee & Jane Ann Petty

        Harpole’s Heartland Lodge and Resort

        Whitetail Properties Real Estate LLC

Volunteer of the Year

        Sheila Davidsmeyer

        Lloyd Lawber

        Stefanie Rennecker and Ryan Lowe

Community Betterment

        Joe Petty Construction, Chris Petty, Jonas Petty

        Eastside Gardens and Bloomers

        Two Rivers Jeep Club

We are pleased to announce our 2017 Award recipients (announced at the 2018 meeting) and share in the celebration of their recognition in the following pages:

Business of the Year:  Harpole’s Heartland Lodge and Resort, Nebo, IL

Volunteers of the Year: Stefanie Rennecker and Ryan Lowe

Community Betterment:  Two Rivers Jeep Club  

Fickle Goddess of Fortune:  Teddy’s Bar & Grill in Griggsville


wanda and gary harpoles_resized

Twenty-three years ago, Gary Harpole with his mother Wanda by his side, started  Heartland Lodge with the vision of promoting our area’s scenic beauty to attract visitors, similar to how Colorado promotes its mountains and Florida promotes its beaches. Then 25 year old Gary moved next to the family farm in a tiny teardrop trailer and began to construct the first of what has now grown to three lodges and a large guest cabin.

Each lodge décor features a unique theme, all oriented to the outdoors. 
Standard in each lodge is a gathering room and lower level recreation rooms.  Most of the 31 guest rooms feature panoramic views of rolling hillsides.  Heartland Lodge Resort has become a popular place for corporate retreats, weddings, family weekends, reunions, special events,  themed weekends, and of course hunting.

Although our area enjoys a reputation throughout the US for whitetail deer hunting, outdoor enthusiasts come to Heartland Lodge for quail and upland bird hunting as well.  Many guests also come for unique sporting opportunities beyond hunting.  In 2015, Heartland Lodge opened an expanded ATV park, with over 60 miles of ATV trails through 1,200 acres.  An estimated 4,000 visitors used the park in 2017.

In October of 2017, Harpole’s Heartland Lodge & Resort announced the construction of four new luxury cabins.  The focus of these self-contained cabins is to bring more tourists into the region on a year-round basis and to have them spend money in our
communities.  Guests staying at these cabins will be encouraged to visit local attractions, events, stores, and restaurants. Along with weekend getaways, longer vacation stays will be promoted. The cabins will serve as a “home base” for vacationing guests. Along with our local county attractions, activities within an 80-mile radius of the resort will be promoted. Some will invest in our communities by purchasing land, building their own cabins/homes, and starting new businesses along with other development.

In 2017, the entire Heartland Lodge & Resort attracted over 20,000 visitors from all over the world to Pike and Calhoun Counties,
injecting millions of dollars into our economy, impacting local restaurants, grocery stores, and retail establishments.

The entire team at Heartland Lodge is dedicated to making our community a better place to live and visit. It is a vital part of their core values and what motivates them to work hard every day.  The Lodge is noted for their outstanding customer service.  The
tremendous vision, business success, and focus on the community are why Heartland Lodge and Resort is our 2017 Business of the Year recipient.   Congratulations to Gary, Wanda, and the entire Heartland Lodge crew!


ryan and stefanie_resize 

The 45th Great River Honor Flight took place in October of 2017. It was a unique group that included veterans from Korea and Vietnam, with all but two of them being from Pike County Illinois.  The group consisted of 66 local veterans – 7 who served during the Korean conflict and the remaining 59 served in Vietnam. They headed to Washington DC along with 46 guardians, many of who were relatives of the veterans.

This special group came to be due to a request by a couple of individuals from Pike County.  They wanted to see if there could be an Honor Flight with just veterans from their county and began raising money for it more than a year in advance of the trip. The driving force for this effort was a brother sister duo– Stefanie Lowe Rennecker and Ryan Lowe.   

Stefanie works in the Western School District, and Ryan in the Pleasant Hill School District. Both districts supported the effort . They reached out to other school districts but were determined to make the trip happen no matter what.  They held community and school fundraisers, gathered donations, and got the communities behind them to honor area veterans with this trip. Thanks to Stefanie and Ryan, and a lot of other volunteers, 112 Veterans and their Guardians ( twice the normal size of previous Great River Honor Flights) made memories that would last a lifetime.  Congratulations!



The Two Rivers Jeep Club was nominated because of their commitment to Pike County. Although they have no physical office or location here, they have proudly called Pike County home since 1991.  The Jeep Club has helped the VFW with projects to improve the former VFW building. The trails on which they do their member-only rides and their open events are maintained by members of the club who come periodically to see that things are in order and safe. They are focused on being good stewards of the land. The Jeep Club has been very generous to local organizations and a year-round contributor to our local tourism economy.

TRJC is the world’s largest all-Jeep wheeling club with dedicated trails on 100% private lands.  Current membership is well over 200 with members from over ten states.  TRJC runs on several thousand acres of 100% private land, here in Pike County.  They offer up to fourteen trails rated from 1 through 5 with various types of terrain. Jeeps are inspected and trail guides accompany each group.

Besides club runs and work days, TRJC offers two “open” events each year.  This means non members can participate and boy, do they!   Combined, these events draw over 300 vehicles and 600 people. People have attended from over 20 states and our events have been covered in many of the major Four Wheel Drive magazines. Since these two events are hosted directly by Two Rivers Jeep Club, 100% of all raffle proceeds and a large percentage of the registration fees go back into the Pike County community and surrounding area that so enthusiastically supports the club. Last year donations totaled $10,000.

Through the generosity of many sponsors and the support of people attending the events they have been able to purchase public safety items such as the Jaws of Life for local Fire Departments.  They have supported the Pittsfield VFW, the Pittsfield Legion, local food pantries, Access Food, the Pittsfield Community Center, the Pike County Historical Society, the All Wars Museum, Pike County Unmet Needs, a number of school projects, and the Nebo Community Center.  They also provide Christmas baskets to the needy and contribute to many other charities in the local area.   We are proud to award them our Community Betterment honors.  Thanks, TRJC, for making Pike County home!

Tedrows_resized 2 IMG_3448

Nine years ago, while going through some old Chamber files, we discovered the original Articles of Incorporation from the early 1950s for what was then the Pittsfield Chamber of Commerce (we became the Pike County 

Chamber in 1987).  The articles stated " the purpose of the organization was to promote the general trade and
commerce and perpetuate the visitation of the fickle goddess of fortune". Since then, we have bestowed the
Goddess (a traveling doll) to a business we feel fortunate to have attracted- and therefore the fickle goddess has smiled on us! 

Having a vibrant town center with entertainment options is important to a community.  Rick and Penny Tedrow knew that when they renovated the former Tom’s Foods in uptown Griggsville.  Teddy’s Bar and Grill is locally owned and opened in 2017 to a great response from the community.  Teddy’s offers lunch and dinner, filling a gap in the area.  Teddy’s also has pool tournaments, and events featuring live entertainment.

The Tedrows took a leap of faith (and the risk associated with it) to make Griggsville home and the uptown are a better place to visit and play.  We feel fortunate to have them, thus the Fickle Goddess of Fortune has smiled on us once again!

 Congratulations to all!  We also thank our sponsors for this year's meeting and their support throughout the year.  Click here for the listing and their logos!