Trevor Lytle, Shirley Kloepfer, Tonya Ruble-Richter and Mary Beth Boone, left to right, received awards at the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner Wednesday night. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
Trevor Lytle, Shirley Kloepfer, Tonya Ruble-Richter and Mary Beth Boone, left to right, received awards at the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner Wednesday night. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
Businesses and individuals were honored Wednesday night at the 93rd annual Madison Area Chamber of Commerce dinner at the Clifty Inn.

The 2017 Small Business of the Year Award went to Mary Beth Boone and her Blush on Main and French Tulip shops.

2016 Small Business Award winners Deb and Mike Fine, of Cocoa Safari and Hertz Shoes, presented the award. Boone purchased the business more than four years ago and has since moved to a new location in a building that she remodeled and rehabilitated. Boone also purchased another business to create the French Tulip flower shop with former Ivy Vine Florist owner Barry Hebner. Blush was also acknowledged as one of the top 10 Indiana boutiques for 2016 in an online poll.

Deb Fine said that Boone was chosen for her reputation “cultivating creative partnerships and encouraging both visitors and local residents to shop here and invest in our community.”

Plus, Fine said, Boone is one who “tirelessly supports her community by donating her time, money and inventory to raise money and bring awareness to great causes.”

“When I think of small business, I think of legacy and roots,” Boone said, accepting her award. “I’m very proud to be part of a family that has had a root company in Madison since 1929, Dattilo’s Fruit Co.”

Boone’s in-laws own Boonie’s Water Conditioning.

“With that stability and greatness surrounding us, it’s just a great foundation to build a business on.”

Boone said she’d been fortunate to work with interns from Indiana University and Hanover College, as well as take part in a project with Hanover’s business scholars program.

“I think that’s something that Madison needs to continue to attract is talent,” she said.

“You’re really lucky in life if you can work with people, your coworkers, that you can share a passion and a vision with and they can make you want to become more every day.”

“There’s a saying by Winston Churchill that says ‘you make a living by what you get. You earn your life by what you give. And you repay with kindness.’ That’s my mantra for tonight,” Boone said.

The Business of the Year Award went to Lytle Funeral Homes and Cremation Service. Presenters Todd and Doug Ungru, of Koehler Welding Supply, credited the business, which started in 1920, with opening two new locations in 2016 and holding its first annual veterans supply drive, benefiting local nursing homes, the Madison State Hospital and the veterans’ hospital in Louisville.

Owner Trevor Lytle thanked his family and staff while accepting the award.

“Living in such a fine community, it means a lot to be recognized by the people, he said following the dinner. “It means a lot.”

Shirley Kloepfer received the 2017 Jeff Garrett Community Service Award. The award was presented by 2011 winner Bob Canida. Kloepfer, the program director for La Casa Amiga, has taught Spanish at all levels at Southwestern and Madison Consolidated schools. More importantly, Canida said, Kloepfer works with La Casa Amiga in translating work for local Hispanic families and teaches English as a second language.

Known to many as “La Maestra,” he said, Kloepfer is also responsible for the creation of Madison’s annual Hispanic Cultural Awareness Festival, which is heading into its 17th year.

“I know the award she cherishes the most is seeing the bright eyes of adoring families and delighting in their growing confidence and accomplishments. By serving the Hispanic community she provides a great service to us all,” Canida said.

Kloepfer said she was honestly surprised and hadn’t prepared a speech for her acceptance.

“I just do what I love and what I can do. God has given me the strength to keep up doing these things that I love,” she said. “Thank you Madison for letting La Casa Amiga exist here and be a great part of our community.”

For the final award of the evening, Molly Dodge and Margo Olson, of River Valley Resources, presented the Nonprofit of the Year award to Southeastern Indiana Voices for Children executive director Tonya Ruble-Richter.

Dodge said Ruble-Richter and her team had done well to work with a small budget, encourage volunteers and donors and shifts in board leadership to continue serving abused and neglected children.

“I have personally witnessed their staff and volunteers put their own needs and lives on hold to help others,” Dodge said. “They’ve donated an impressive 8,000 volunteer hours to Jefferson County fighting for abused and neglected children.”

Ruble-Richter told attendees that the side of Madison she and Voices volunteers see is much different than most see on a daily basis.

“We are just insanely thankful for the chance to spread the word about what we do and about what these kids need.

“We are so sad that an organization like ours has to exist,” she said, doing her best to hold back tears. “We’re super hopeful that with the growth that we’ve had in two-and-a-half years that we can continue to do that.”

In addition to award winners, the Chamber also honored Emilee Roberts, of Girls Inc., as its Ambassador of the Year and attorney David Sutter as Board Member of the Year.

For its end of 2016 statistics, the Chamber reports 396 members, 35 new members and an 89 percent member-retention rate. Compared to numbers reported at last year’s awards dinner, there’s been a slight drop from the record 408 members and a 91 percent member-retention rate.