That was the night in a nutshell when the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet. The shindig took place at the Yam Theatre on Thursday evening and my wife and I had the opportunity to enjoy the festivities along with a group of other staffers from our Portales bureau of The Eastern New Mexico News.
The laughter was drummed up by the event’s emcee, Donald Elder III. He’s just “Doc” to most folks and also wears hats as a professor of history at Eastern New Mexico University and the voice of the Greyhounds for a variety of sports.
The tears came during a video montage dedicated to Steve Rooney, the local radio personality who died in a single-car accident last month at the age of 45. Among the dozens of tables in the venue, there was a lot of dabbing of tear-filled eyes.
The dining was catered by Flavours by Sodexo and a cash bar was handled by the Dawg House bar. Kudos to the chamber’s executive director Karl Terry and his team for transitioning from a buffet line and no alcohol at its event to a quality sit-down dining affair that included a variety of choices for adult beverages.
The evening’s biggest award went to Steven Gamble, ENMU’s outgoing president. He collected the Warm Heart of the Sunbelt Award — think Lifetime Achievement recognition — for his tireless work in improving the university and uniting it with the community.
Gamble was one of the first community leaders to reach out to me when I arrived in town as the publisher of the local newspapers back in November 2015. We connected very soon after for a tour of the campus and a great discussion over lunch. He made me feel welcomed immediately and we still catch up on things from time to time whether it’s at a community event or an ENMU athletic contest.
He’s one of the good ones, and someone will have large shoes to fill when his replacement is named in the next few months.
Various other awards were handed out during the evening, all of which were recapped in staff writer Eamon Scarbrough’s story in Friday’s paper. These folks are some of the shining stars in Roosevelt County and continue to make it a great place to live. Here’s one more round of applause for all of them.
As with many of these types of events, there was the requisite raffle giveaways. The local businesses teamed up to provide some great prizes.
One of the highlights of the drawing had to be when it came time to award the gift certificates that had been donated by McDonald’s. After those six numbers had been called, a sheepish John Snowberger strolled toward the stage with the winning ticket.
For those who don’t know, John and his wife, Robyn, OWN the local “Mickey D” franchises. He, of course, had them draw another ticket and they were conferred to another lucky recipient.
It was just one more moment of laughter in a fun, well-run event.