By LINDA CHION KENNEY
The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce at its annual dinner Jan. 17 announced business awards in three categories and recognized Christian Beiter as its Riverview Citizen of the Year.
“Whenever you can bring 300-plus community members together in one room and celebrate our community, it’s a success for sure,” said Tanya Doran, the chamber’s executive director, in reference to the night’s turnout at The Regent in Riverview at 6437 Watson Road.
As for Beiter’s selection, “Christian is one of the up-and-coming people in our community,” Doran added. “He has a deep passion for the community and helping our kids develop their skills and talents.”
Beiter, a certified financial planner, is a partner with Preservation 1st Financial Group and founder and president of the nonprofit South County Spartans Athletic Program.
Also at the chamber’s Caribbean Nights Annual Membership and Awards Dinner, outgoing president Michelle Mosher, of Southshore Insurance Professionals, handed the gavel to Mike Jones, the newly seated president.
“We had a phenomenal year,” said Mosher, noting the chamber issued 79 proclamations last year, held countless meetings and events, and processed 202 new member applications.
According to Doran, the chamber has about 780 members overall, making it one of the fastest-growing chambers in Tampa Bay, serving one of the fastest-growing communities in the region.
“One of the things I like best about the area is our people are so generous,” Jones said, in his remarks. “You can get anything you want in life if you help somebody else get what they need.”
In all, 82 businesses were nominated for 2019 Business of the Year awards in three categories. Finalists for organizations with five or fewer employees were Mo2vated Photography and Pearson Capital, with the award going to Accent American.
Finalists for organizations with up to 20 employees were Osprey Observer and Restoration 1 of Tampa Bay, with the award going to Impact Taekwondo Center.
Finalists for organizations with more than 20 employees were Electric Today and St. Joseph’s Hospital – South, with the award going to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, which is set to open mid-February in Riverview, at 10240 Big Bend Road. Franchisees Ian and Adam Lieberman have locations as well in Brandon, Lakeland and Temple Terrace.
Bill Andrew, of Tessera of Brandon, handed over his “hat” to Daniel Cyral, of Hypnotic Engagements, who succeeds Andrew as honorary mayor of Riverview. Also recognized were deputy mayors Brian and Marijean Reith (Team Reith, RE/MAX Realty Unlimited), who together with Cyral raised just under $39,000 for their selected nonprofits in the 2019 charity race.
Chamber awards went to Cyral (Shining Star), Joe Eletto (Ambassador of the Year) and Jill Andrew (Margy Watkins Volunteer of the Year). Recognized for their work were chamber staff members Doran; Debbie Kirkland (membership director), Sierra Carch (administrative specialist), Megan Medina (administrative support) and Gabby Morford (event coordinator).
As is tradition, annual dinner attendees decorate their own tables, according to the year’s chosen theme. This year’s Best Decorated Table award went to Tessera of Brandon.
In being named Riverview Citizen of the Year, Beiter joins an illustrious list of past honorees, including, from 2003 to 2018: Kay and John Sullivan, Sandra Murman, Frances Giegenheimer, Ron Proulx, Bill McMullen, Jim Johnson, Earl and Annabel Lennard, Bob Heilmann, Barbara Jones, Bryan Thatcher, Tammy Holmberg, Jill Andrew, Joe Eletto, Jennifer Caskey, Kim Tyson and Marie Gilmore.
In memory of Earl Lennard, the namesake of Dr. Earl J. Lennard High School in Ruskin, the chamber at the Jan. 17 dinner launched in his memory a scholarship fund for high school seniors living in Riverview or whose family member is a member of the chamber or the Riverview Woman’s Club. Lennard, a long-time Riverview chamber member, served as superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools and as Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. He died Dec. 23 after a long illness.
Installation of the chamber’s 2020 board of directors rounded out the Jan. 17 dinner formalities. Board members include Jones, president; Mosher, past president; Janet Noah (The Bridges), incoming president; James J. Pulkowski, CPA, treasurer; and Kendra Wilson (Suncoast Credit Union), treasurer-elect.
Rounding out the board are Andrew, Beiter, Cyral, and Marijean Reith, along with Jim Johnson, board emeritus; Dan Bender (South Bay Hospital); Michael Broussard (The Flying Locksmiths); George Colon (Grantham University); Nikki Foster (The Mosaic Company); Faith Hanaway (The Alley at SouthShore); Wendy Heath (E&L Construction Group); Rinky Parwani, Esq. (Parwani Law); and Jerry Rothstein (Keep I.T. Simple Computer Services). Doran, as executive director, serves on the board as well.
For more information, call the chamber at 813-234-5944 or visit: www.RiverviewChamber.com. The chamber has space in the CenterState Bank building at 10101 Bloomingdale Ave., Riverview.