A near-capacity crowd attended the New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet Thursday evening, March 17, at Cedar Creek-New Haven.

The program, which followed a buffet dinner, was emceed by Chamber President Steve Roth, who early in the evening was presented the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

Roth is city administrator for the city of New Haven, and before that was editor of the now defunct New Haven Leader.

Angie Scheer presented Roth with his award, and said he has played “a very active role in all the Chamber’s events in the past year.”

New Haven High School also received a Special Recognition Award at this year’s banquet.

In 2015, New Haven High School was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Only two high schools in Missouri received the award in 2015.

The designation recognizes high levels of academic achievement or significant progress in closing gaps in achievement among disadvantaged and minority students.

“It’s not just the school this honor represents, but the whole community,” said Josh Hoener, New Haven High School principal, who spoke on behalf of the school. “I hope you all know what a distinctive honor it is to become a National Blue Ribbon Award winner.”

Roth called the Special Recognition Award “one of the most important awards we’ve ever given.”

Brenda Menke, president of the New Haven School Board, presented the award to Superintendent Kyle Kruse, Principal Josh Hoener, John Tucker, high school history teacher, and Erin Scheer, a senior who represented the high school student body and is president of the National Honor Society.

New Haven High School has earned the Distinction in Performance award from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for seven consecutive years. The high school has consistently demonstrated academic ability well above the state averages.

Youth Citizen of Year

The Youth Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Keven McDowell, a senior at New Haven High School, who is a Bright Flight Scholar and is active in his school.

McDowell has won 10 Academic All-State honors. He has been drum major of New Haven High School’s band for three years, and competes in cross country, track and basketball.

A member of the National Honor Society, McDowell plans to attend Missouri State University. Josh Hoener, principal at New Haven High School, presented the award.

Henniges Honored

The Henniges Automotive plant in New Haven received the Business of the Year Award. Gary Kuhn, chief executive officer of Citizens Bank and chairman of the board, presented the award.

Henniges Automotive provides vehicle sealing and anti-vibration solutions for the global automotive industry. It’s headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Kuhn said Henniges has an “enormous impact” on the New Haven community.

“It has become the business in New Haven since moving here in 1998,” he said.

Henniges occupies a plant that has expanded to 288,600 square feet. It employs over 600 people and has a $30 million payroll.

Kuhn talked about the discussion that took place nearly 20 years ago when New Haven landed GenCorp, then located near Berger. GenCorp later became GDX, and in 2007 Henniges acquired GDX and increased its footprint with six additional plants.

Stacy Hymer, plant manager at Henniges, accepted the award.

Henniges was founded in 1951 by Ernst Henniges in Hanover, Germany. The first products were molded rubber.

In the fall of 2012, Henniges announced a $5 million expansion at the New Haven plant that would add 200 more jobs in the Franklin County community. That expansion included an additional production line to meet the needs of a new contract to supply sealing components for General Motors plants.

Lifetime Achievement

The Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ralph Scheer, a longtime employee at New Haven Lumber Co.

Scheer retired at the end of 2015 after 45 years with the company. He continues to work there two days week while also running a small cattle operation outside New Haven with his son.

The award was presented to Scheer by Danny Baumstark, president of Hermann Lumber/New Haven Lumber.