By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — The Senior Citizens Center was lit up well into the evening Tuesday, Jan. 18. Business and community representatives from across the region, especially Kay County filled the many tables and enjoyed a meal in one another’s company as the Newkirk Chamber of Commerce celebrated their first banquet in two years, looking forward to what is hoped to be a prosperous 2022.
Debbie Leaming is the Chamber President, and reflects on the success of the sold-out event.
“Everything went well. The food was good, we had a buffet-style dinner,” she said.
The banquet is held each January, partly to reflect on the previous year, while also looking at what the new year has to offer. It is also for a membership drive not only for businesses, but also community members across Kay County to help support the Chamber for the year
“We like for our members to join us in January and be with us a full year, that way we have four seasons of fun,” Leaming said.
The packed house was catered by Stagecoach Events, and in the crowd were representatives from across Kay County, including the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce, Newkirk Main Street and Kay County District Two Commissioner Jason Shanks and Assessor Janell Leaming. United States Senator James Lankford also had a representative present.
One aspect of the banquet was a look back at how successful the previous year was, but also a look forward.
“We talked about our success last year, and are looking forward to this year,” Debbie Leaming said. “Our plan for 2022 is to begin to develop a plan to revitalize our buildings Downtown so we can have a community center again. We want to put tenants in there.”
The main event was the honoring of the Citizen of the Year and Business of the Year to recognize those who have gone above and beyond to promote the Newkirk community.
“It’s important to recognize people that do good, especially when they do it not for recognition,” she said. “It is also a tradition, and small town traditions are worth the effort.”
Wally Shafer was the Citizen of the Year.
“He’s been active in a Newkirk since he came to Newkirk,” she said. “He’s volunteered in every way he can. He just exemplifies a good citizen.”
Grit and Grace Outdoors was the Business of the Year. Operated by Curtis and Jason Grace, they work tirelessly to promote the outdoors to the larger public, and especially in educating youth members on the importance of getting outside.
Leaming also sees a need for the youth to be immersed in the outdoors, and how Grit and Grace Outdoors can fulfill that need.
“Everybody wants kids to have less screen time and more time outdoors. The family is big in nurturing through nature, and big into getting kids outdoors.”
The Newkirk Chamber of Commerce is located at 114 S. Main. For more information, including membership, call (580) 362-2155 or visit www.Newkirkchamber.com.