In addition to a chance to relax and socialize over drinks and a fine meal, the highlight of the Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet is learning who will be honored with special recognition of their service in a variety of areas.
No prior announcement of the winners was made this year, and the element of surprise was returned as the audience tried to glean their identities from the clues offered by the presenters.
As always, the final award for Distinguished Citizen of the Year is among the most highly anticipated of the evening. At UW-Stout’s grand ballroom in the Memorial Student Center on Wednesday — and with WEAU meteorologist Drew Williams serving as the evening’s emcee, the festivities ended with the announcement of Jim Hathaway as the honoree for 2017.
A familiar name to many, Hathaway is the CEO of Dunn Energy Cooperative and has served the community on the local, state and national levels in many different ways with his involvement in organizations like the American Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church functions, Menomonie Sunrise Rotary — and in recent years, the boards of both the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation and the Chippewa Valley Technical College Foundation.
About being part of the CVTC Foundation board, Hathaway noted that the technical college is a strong part of the area community as it helps to educate students and give them the skills to find a good job.
“While there are a variety of ways to get involved ... whether it’s a school function for your kids or a service organization like the Kiwanis, Lions or Rotary clubs, I’ve always thought that a community survives and thrives thanks to the people who volunteer their time to help out to make Menomonie a stronger and more vibrant place,” Hathaway said. “Find some way to help out your fellow citizens — it makes you feel great ... at least it makes me feel great!”
He said he was surprised when he was told he had been selected as the Chamber’s Distinguished Citizen for 2017: “I’ve always done things because it was the right thing to do, not because I was looking to be recognized. ... It was very humbling ... and I’m very honored.”
Turn to page B3 for photos and stories of the other award winners honored at the banquet.