EDA gala recognizes volunteers, community

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Michael Tuohy, of Chatfield's EDA, thanks volunteers for their contributions to the city over the past year.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

“I want to thank you – everyone who’s volunteered and given their time. That’s how Chatfield works,” stated Chatfield Economic Development Authority (EDA) member Michael Tuohy, standing before a gathering of Chatfield residents at the EDA’s annual gala held Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the Chatfield Center for the Arts to honor the contributions of numerous volunteers in the community.

“This year, 2019, was a really good year in Chatfield,” Tuohy said. “We will continue to see really good things in this town, and we plan to focus on that.  The Chatfield Center for the Arts is one of the things helping Chatfield grow, one of the significant things supporting our town’s growth.” 

He added that there are so many people who work in places beyond the arts center, where volunteers are the backbone of operations, that “do a lot of things and don’t make the news…they just quietly do what needs to get done…and everything they do really matters, so thank you.”

Prior to Tuohy speaking, Mayor Russ Smith had honors to convey to city employees marking five years in their positions, including Margaret Viss, Valerie Wilson, Christy Hyke, Bill DuBord, Ryan Priebe, Ken Bradford and Aaron Miliander. 

He took a second look at the employee rounding off a quarter century working at the library and commented, “This is hard to believe, but Monica Erickson has been at the library for 25 years.  She must’ve started when she was like 6 or something. We thank you for your service to Chatfield.”      

Ron Zeigler, president of Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), was the featured speaker of the evening, as the EDA has recently offered a presentation during each gala that highlights the accomplishments and aspirations of a local business. 

As Zeigler spoke, someone prodded him teasingly, “We thought you were (CEDA employee and Chatfield EDA Director) Chris Giesen’s dad.” 

Zeigler shared that CEDA has been part of Chatfield’s business community for 12 years because “prior to that, we were in Rushford and were part of the flood in 2007…we had 36 inches of turkey manure-infested water in our office, and Michael Tuohy offered an office building to us to rent until we could figure out what was next.

“We’re still here, and we’re a 501(c)3 private nonprofit. We have 27 people who work for us in communities from Montevideo and Jackson to Grand Rapids. We also have people who work for us in Iowa and Illinois, and we serve 50 to 55 different communities around this area.  We do our payroll through local banks, and we utilize local restaurants. We appreciate the support you’ve given our business over the years. We’re here and have no plans of moving, so hopefully the Tuohys don’t need their building back anytime soon.”

The gala was shortened this year due to an impending snowstorm that started with just a few snowflakes but soon piled inches onto the lawn in front of the center.