It turned out cold and windy Thursday, January 11, but a full house showed up for the banquet anyway. The Muleshoe Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture celebrated the  year at the Desert Rose and recognized Muleshoe citizens who have made a difference to our community.In fact, the theme of the night was Comm-Unity, the community working together with a sense of unity driving success

The Desert Rose was decorated with lights, shiny things, and black and white plaid on the tables. I happen to wear a white shirt, black jacket, and a black and white plaid scarf, so I fit right in!

Chamber manager Brittany Pendley welcomed everyone to  the banquet, Myles James spoke briefly, gave the invocation, and turned things back over to Brittany. We then went through the serving line as Brittany called out table numbers. The meal was barbecue from Jettfire Barbecue and cherry cobbler dessert from  Leal’s Restaurant.

As everyone finished eating, Brittany took to the podium again and shared the Chamber’s mission, “to promote and support our local businesses, sustain a positive business environment and to preserve and improve the quality of life for our residents of Muleshoe.”

She talked about things going on with the Chamber and mentioned Brandy Reed with the Northwest Texas Rural Business Opportunity Program, and Taylor McAlpine from Leading EDG and the resources they offer to Muleshoe.

Brittany recognized Thurman and Rhonda Myers, Jett and Luli Murillo, Leal’s, Terry Brewster, Gil Rennels, Sergio Leal, Frank Wuerflein, Larry Cribbs, and MHS’s FFA students for their contributions to making tonight’s banquet a success. She also named her Chamber board of directors: President John Villalba, Vice President Jackson Myers, Secretary Londi Blackwell, and board members Kamry Cribbs, Natalie Leal, James Rincones, Myles James, Keely Bass, and Bryton Steinbock.

President Villalba then spoke of pride in hometowns and his pride in Muleshoe.

Guest speaker Sergio Leal was next. After a bit of Leal family history, Sergio followed the theme of the banquet-Comm-Unity-and tied together the words community, municipality, unity, mission statements, integrity, visions, and actions as they apply to Muleshoe in terms of service to the community. One example given was Mrs. Allison, some high school students, and Magann Rennels having  the vision to save the Santa Fe Depot, and then acting on that vision. Serving to help others comes out of all those words, too, and examples of that in Muleshoe included the Bailey County Ministerial Alliance, the food pantry, Meals on Wheels, and the Christmas for Kids program.

Then it was time to announce the winners of the awards. Larry Cribbs, Muleshoe High School Student Services Coordinator and Safety Coordinator, did the honors and started with the man of the year. Turns out the winner was unanimous since he was the only nominee, and we had just heard from him: Sergio Leal!

Woman of the Year nominees included Cindy Bessire, Annette Orozco, Terry Marricle, and Darlene Pierce. Annette was the winner.

Youth of the Year nominees were Katelyn Spears, Bianca Cerceres, Breanna Watkins, Alexa Estrada, and Emma Zapata. The winner was Alexa Estrada.

Business of the Year nominees were Joe Ed’s Auto Supply, Grit and Grace Boutique, Triple S Auto Glass, Five Area Telephone Co-op, and Leal’s Tortilla Factory. The Winner was Five Area Telephone Co-op. The award was accepted by Mark Washington.

Employee of the Year nominees were Anglie Lewis, Anna Gonzales, Ashlee Atchley, and Randy Lierance. Randy, who works at United, was the winner.

Ag Family of the Year nominees were Cody and Amberlee Altman’s Altman Land and Cattle Company and the Larry Hancock family. Altman Land and Cattle won.

The happy winners are, left to right, Sergio Leal, Mark Washington, Randy Lieurance, Annette Orozco, Alexa Estrada, and Cody Altman.

I sat at table 18 with the Lierance family and the Estrada family, which was fun for me for several reasons. I enjoyed visiting with Randy and his family, having recognized him as someone I see at United frequently. I knew Ginger Estrada from United also, but her husband Rolando had to remind me that he was a former student of mine! Kids do grow up, and I didn’t recognize him. Then, after the awards were announced, here I was sitting at a table with two winners! Randy was the Employee of the Year and the Estrada’s daughter Alexa was the Youth of the Year. Alexa came to the table late as she was one of the FFA students helping with the meal serving. But all that made the night more interesting for me.

It was also fun to see Cody Altman, another former student, and his family be named the Ag Family of the Year.

Brittany drew tickets for some door prizes, thanked everyone for coming, and we were dismissed to take pictures and offer congratulations to the winners. It was a pleasant evening, and I encourage you to be in attendance at next year’s banquet.

Thanks to Brittany Pendley for her help with this story.