Chamber celebrates year

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The Paris Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism celebrated a year of growth and honored a local business and a community leader during its annual Chamber Celebration Saturday, March 23, at the Tingley Reception Center.

Recipient of the annual Parisian Award — presented by Mandy Martin assisted by Chad Thompson and Bob Colvin — went to Terry Elston who has led the establishment of the ECCEL Academy. Chamber board member Melinda Young presented the Business of the Year Award to Betty Jane’s Kitchen and co-owners Corrie Brinkerhoff and Robin Trapp.

Thompson, who is plant manager at North American Lighting, praised Elston for being the driving force behind ECCEL Academy —Edgar Clark Career Exploration Leadership. Students from Edgar and Clark County high schools explore career and leadership opportunities in the East Central Illinois area. This is a regional course in cooperation where students from Casey, Martinsville, Marshall, Paris, Chrisman, Kansas and Shiloh explore career and leadership opportunities throughout Edgar and Clark Counties.

Thompson explained he met Elston through PEDCO and Elston made the newcomer feel welcome. “Terry is a problem-solver,” Thompson explained. “He personifies servant leadership in serving the Paris and Edgar County area.”

Colvin, who serves as president of PEDCO, said Elston has set an example for all in his support for youth activities including Little League and Challenger League as well as the ECCEL Academy.

PEDCO was considering adopting an entrepreneur program for students championed by an Effingham resident when Elston stepped forward, Colvin noted. “He told me we can do better than that program,” he said.

Colvin credits Elston with building the program from the ground up involving seven schools in Clark and Edgar Counties.

“Terry Elston is a team player,” Colvin said. “Anything he gets involved with becomes immediately better and we’re lucky to have him and his family in our community.”

Betty Jane’s Kitchen is a relatively new business, officially opening July 1, 2017, Young noted — but co-owners Corrie Brinkerhoff and Robin Trapp worked on their vision for the business for several years before the opening.

The business, located at 110 E. Madison, is named after the owners’ grandmothers — Betty Conine Wright and Jane Brinkerhoff with Young calling them classic grandma names.

The women are both married. Trapp to Steve Trapp and Brinkerhoff to John Brinkerhoff. They are also active mothers with three and two children, respectively.

Although officially called a coffee shop, Betty Jane’s has evolved into so much more than that since its opening, Young observed. It offers breakfast and lunch specials on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and a variety of baked goods. Young said customers may enjoy 17 pies, eight cakes, various cookies, parfaits, fresh salads, wraps and soups.

“We can’t forget the doughnuts,” offered as specials. “Many of us have waited in line for those homemade doughnuts on Doughnut Day,” she said.

The business definitely has a homey feel, Young said, noting the hardwood floors came out of Trapp’s family home. The display case was specially constructed for the business.Chamber executive director Linda Lane briefly reviewed the organization’s year, noting she completed her first full year in the position in February. She praised the support of the entire Chamber board but especially board president Lindsey Wilson. “I couldn’t get along without her,” Lane noted.

The Chamber now has 203 members including 24 new members in the past year. There have been four ribbon cuttings and the Chamber ambassadors remain active.

Among the activities this year by the Chamber are the downtown block party, Scare on the Square and Christmas in Paris. The office has fielded 495 cards and have had 457 visitors walk through the doors.

The program began with the auction of the gold and silver coins received this past year by the Salvation Army. The gold coin was purchased by the Prospect Bank for $2,100, well above the market value of $1,315.

Entertainment for the evening was Dueling Pianos.