Nobody would be incorrect if he or she referred to Saturday’s 42nd annual Celebrate St. Clair banquet as the Farmers & Merchants Bank show, as the financial institution swept the Chamber of Commerce’s two biggest awards presented to recognize the St. Clair area’s best.

For the second consecutive year, a bank employee was honored by being named Citizen of the Year as teller Dottie Nelson was chosen, while the bank itself was picked as the Business of the Year.

The annual banquet took place at the St. Clair Elks Lodge. In all, 10 awards were presented after almost 50 individuals or businesses were nominated. St. Clair resident and businesswoman Andrea Cheatham Quattlebaum was the emcee.

“The Citizen of the Year award is given to an individual to recognize his or her unique and distinguished record of community service that has benefited the St. Clair community,” said 2011 Citizen of the Year Joyce Janes, who as last year’s winner led the committee of former recipients who selected the most recent honoree. “This clearly describes tonight’s recipient.”

As last year’s winner, Janes presented this year’s award, which recognizes accomplishments for 2012.

Former FMB President Charlie Butler, himself the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year in 2000, turned in a nomination form for Nelson.

“I have had the privilege of working with Dottie for years and have always found her to be a community-minded giving person,” Butler said. “Dottie does extensive work with the St. Clair Elks helping with their community projects ... and has helped with many private fund-raisers in the community for people with personal immediate needs.”

The bank, which is celebrating its 100th year of being in business this year, was selected by the Chamber’s board of directors as its Business of the Year. The institution was nominated by Janes.

“Farmers & Merchants Bank is well-respected in the community because of its commitment to maintain the highest standards in the banking industry,” Janes’ nomination read. “Our staff offers friendly, personalized customer service bringing our customers a trusting peace of mind.”

Other award winners were St. Clair Route 66 Farmers Market organizer Paula Dace, volunteer of the year; R-XIII School District Superintendent Mike Murphy, outstanding public service; Lonedell R-XIV School District Principal Jenny Ulrich, youth mentor award; St. Clair Junior High School teacher Carolyn Barnes, educator of the year; Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Roger Alterberger, spiritual leader of the year; and SCHS senior Jessica Perkins, outstanding youth award.

In addition, Tim Shipp was named the police officer of the year and Adam Hansel was named the firefighter of the year.

Mayor Ron Blum presented two special distinguished service awards through proclamations during the evening. The first was to Rick and Amanda Thomas for their efforts in bringing the Truth and the Outdoors Wildlife Expo to St. Clair earlier this year. The other was to Keith Domke for his service to the community through his work as editor of the St. Clair Missourian as well as his multiple volunteer efforts. Domke also was given an award of appreciation by 2013 Chamber board President Bob Triphahn because he served as the 2012 Chamber of Commerce board of directors president.

Altenberger, Shipp and the Thomases did not attend the banquet.

Citizen of the Year

“This person is described as being very friendly, reliable, caring and a wonderful co-worker who serves the community with a smile,” Janes said in introducing Nelson before revealing who the winner of the Citizen of the Year winner was. “This person is a lifelong resident of St. Clair and has been committed to serving our community for many years.”

Individuals nominated to receive one of the Chamber’s awards are notified, but are not told in which category they were nominated. Also, the winners are not announced until the banquet.

“Words can’t express ... I’m just so surprised,” a teary-eyed Nelson said in accepting the award. “I appreciate being recognized for this. There are so many people more deserving.”

When Nelson was announced the recipient, she received a standing ovation.

In presenting the award, Janes said Nelson has assisted in running the St. Clair Junior Bulldogs girls basketball program for five years and also is heavily involved with the St. Clair Elks Lodge. In addition, she helps with Route 66 Car Show, the Truth and the Outdoors Expo and the St. Clair Rotary Club golf tournaments.

“She also volunteers her time at various fund-raisers that generate the funds given back to the community through the Elks,” Janes said. “She doesn’t think twice about helping with benefits to help individuals with medical expenses or hardships. Her hours of community service are above and beyond her full-time position at Farmers & Merchants Bank.

“Having worked with her for many years, I have personally witnessed her loyalty to this community as well as her willingness to help with many bank events. I’ve never heard her boast or complain about the many hours she has contributed to serving the community as a volunteer. It seems to come as second nature to her and she never expects anything in return.

“It is my pleasure and a special privilege to present the 2012 St. Clair Citizen of the Year Award to Mrs. Dottie Nelson.   

Business of the Year

Farmers & Merchants Bank was established in 1913 with a capital base of $12,500 and funded a total of 46 real estate loans during its first year.

“Our 2012 St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce business of the year has provided an invaluable service to our community for, well, at least a couple of years, and it is still going strong,” said Domke, who presented the award to the bank.

The St. Clair Missourian was last year’s recipient of the award.

“When I was contemplating on what to say about this place in presenting this award tonight, I knew I quickly would run out of time before I ran out of accolades,” Domke said about FMB. “But this business is a true business in every sense of the word, and its commitment to St. Clair and our community continues to be unswerving. It even branches out to serve other communities just as faithfully as it serves our own.”

In both 2011 and 2012, Farmers & Merchants was named one of the top 25 lenders by the Small Business Administration.

“That’s quite an achievement in itself, but its success goes beyond its peers,” Domke said. “It reaches its customers far and wide on a daily basis. Our 2012 business of the year is well-respected because of its commitment to maintain high standards and provide topnotch public service. Its staff is friendly and personalizes business on an individual basis — not the easiest thing to always do these days. This place includes a group of people with shared values — in the business which they work, with the customers they serve and for the community in which they reside. A valuable business remains about people, and this place does it very, very well.”

The St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce created the Business of the Year award to recognize a business which has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the Chamber and support of the St. Clair community.

“This firm does that and then some,” Domke said. “And, yes, I mean and then some! In short, this business is what a community is all about.”

The plaque the bank received states that the award is presented in recognition of outstanding dedication and service to the St. Clair community. It reads that the award is for exceptional business leadership and support.