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By RANTOUL PRESS
Residents who go above and beyond to give of their time were among those honored at Thursday evening’s annual Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce banquet.
The chamber also honored two individuals who have been key to operation of the chamber of commerce and top businesses.
Citizens of the year — John and Barbara Bonacorsi
Marv Remmers Volunteer of the Year — Tim Weitekamp
Educator of the Year — Jeanette Holliday
Lifetime Award — Bryce Morris
New Business of the Year — Ace Hardware
Business of the Year — TNT Tavern
Former Chamber Director Chris Kaler and outgoing Chamber Board President John Vasquez were also recognized for their service.
Pete Salmon of Taylor Studios presented the program on the Community Experience Plan.
Citizens of the Year
The Bonacorsis, who have been Rantoul residents for the past 30 years, established Christian Life Church in the early ‘80s — John Bonacorsi serving as senior pastor.
Originally located in the Country Tyme Lanes building, the church bought the vacant AllTel building, which it now calls home.
This year the Bonacorsis boosted the Rantoul business community by completing the remodeling and expansion of the Dairy Queen, which also involved the development of StarCrest Cleaners next door. They also assisted with the reoccupation of the Busey Bank building downtown, which is now home to Lindsey Lane Bridal.
Other nominees for Citizen of the year were Kaler and Morris.
Volunteer of the Year
A Rantoul resident since his childhood, Weitekamp graduated from the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy, after which he managed the family drug store, Tim’s Pharmacy, for 23 years.
The pharmacy was sold, and Weitekamp worked for Rantoul Drugs until it was sold and then for CVS Pharmacy before being hired at Carle Pharmacy, Urbana. He recruited the current CVS store to become a member of the Chamber.
Weitekamp is a member of the Second Wind Running Club and has managed races during the years for St. Malachy Parish and the Chamber.
He has been active in Rantoul Rotary, including serving as inbound coordinator for Rotary District Youth Exchange Committee. He has served as counselor to about 30 students and hosted 11 in his home.
He has been active in his church, St. Malachy in Rantoul.
Other nominees for Marv Remmers Volunteer of the Year were Church Women United Clothing Center, Mary Bolser, Sonna Iorio and William McCormick.
Morris has been an active member of Rantoul Exchange Club and American Lutheran Church.
He owned and operated Morris Mufflers and More on North Century Boulevard since 1977 before recently closing the business due to retirement. His business was known for its quirky messages on a sign board.
Morris provided sponsorship and support to local organizations. He would allow local organizations to hold car washes at the business to raise funds and furnished all the supplies. He was also one of the founders of the soap box derby in Rantoul.
Morris previously served as a mentor to local grade school children and continues to be in contact with many of the individuals he has mentored over the years.
He is also known for his sense of humor and his ability as a storyteller.
Educator of the Year
Educator of the Year winner Holliday has been a Rantoul City Schools teacher for more than 40 years.
Teaching comes naturally to Holliday, who comes from a family of educators. She currently serves as the RCS gifted instructor.
Holliday sets her educational goals to meet the needs of children who require extra intellectual challenges and prepares them for self-directing their abilities and interests.
Holliday doesn’t confine her students’ education to the classroom. She used her own family farm for field trips to demonstrate a working garden, life cycles, recycling and preservation of natural resources — a long time before it was popular.
Holliday will retire at the end of the year.
Other nominees for Educator of the Year were RTHS boys basketball coaches, Sarah Elliott, Jennifer Ernst, Carolyn Hinton, Paulette Joerger, Linda Lindsay, Bryan
Reynolds, Rhianna Stafford and Michelle Wagner.
New Business of the Year
Accepting the award for New Business of the Year on behalf of Ace Hardware was Jerry Davis, manager.
Ace Hardware was selected for its community support, rec league sponsorships and donations to a variety of organizations.
This year the company sponsored RTHS athletics with football field advertising and the chamber snowman project.
Business of the Year
Owners Carey and Jimmy Taylor accepted the Business of the Year Award on behalf of TNT Tavern.
The business was cited for its continuing support of chamber and community programs and events.
Vasquez said TNT Tavern is “a solid supporter” of the chamber-sponsored Fourth of July Rockin’ the Runway event.
This year the company took the initiative to provide and sponsor services at the event and gave a portion of its sales back to the chamber.
“The public event would not be possible without them,” Vasquez said.
TNT also brings traffic to downtown Rantoul, sponsoring car shows and events affiliated with the local farm shows. The business continues to provide donations to local civic groups and sponsors local rec leagues.
Community Foundation grants
Kaler, a member of the Rantoul Community Foundation Board, also announced the recipients of foundation grants.
The grants went to:
• Rural Champaign County Special Education — $700
• Pathways Program — $800
• The Vision Project, a subsidiary of Bethany Park Christian Church community garden (produce raised goes to Community Service Center food bank) — $3,000.
Three organizations requested pledge money:
• Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce — $2,000 for its Movie in the Park project
• St. Malachy School — $2,000 for smart boards
• Champaign County Head Start — $2,000 for new playground equipment.
Kaler said under the pledge program, the foundation agrees to provide a portion of the cost of the project if the agency requesting the funds raises the remainder of the amount needed.