• Top chamber awards go to western Independence leaders

  • Forget Hollywood: If western Independence had its own Walk of Fame, it’s likely Donna Pittman, Stacie Short and the Rev. Bob Spradling would have stars on that sidewalk.


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  • Forget Hollywood: If western Independence had its own Walk of Fame, it’s likely Donna Pittman, Stacie Short and the Rev. Bob Spradling would have stars on that sidewalk.
    Pittman, Short and Spradling received the top awards Saturday evening during the Independence Chamber of Commerce’s 92nd annual banquet, “Meet Us on the Red Carpet,” at the Hilton Garden Inn. In keeping with the evening’s theme, each award winner was introduced as an actor in famous scenes of well-known movies from the past several decades, including “Silence of the Lambs,” “Notting Hill” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
    Spradling received the Distinguished Citizen Award. He is now in his 28th year as the pastor of Maywood Baptist Church on East Winner Road, and among other things, he’s well-known for his efforts toward the annexation of western Independence schools into the Independence School District in 2007-2008.
    Last fall, Spradling also received a Civic Leadership Award from the West Gate Division of the Missouri Municipal League. Cooperation continues, he said, among Independence Economic Development, the chamber, the school district, the city and business associations to improve the western side of Independence.
    Spradling especially recognized the efforts of the Englewood Business Association tenants to invest their own dollars in turning the area into a successful arts district.
    “It’s very nice that we’re working together,” Spradling said. “We have a constituency that need people to think well and progressively about the people we serve.”
    Maywood Baptist Church provides space, in cooperation with Independence School District, to provide GED and ESL classes, as well as an upcoming job fair.
    “Those are things that are benefiting our community tremendously,” Spradling said.
    Pittman, owner of Curt’s Famous Meats on East Truman Road since 1989, received the Distinguished Board Member Award. She also played a key role in the annexation of schools and has helped in revitalizing the Maywood business area.
    A lifelong Independence resident, Short also worked to put the school annexation issue on the ballot before voters. She is heavily involved with the Englewood Business District and has worked in efforts to support the Englewood Police Station. Short received the chamber’s Distinguished Service Award.
    Pittman, along with Vaughn Cornish of Schmidt, Cornish, & Smith CPAs, and Karen Downey of Downey Construction Inc., were recognized as retiring Independence Chamber of Commerce board members. The evening’s marquee sponsor, ATK Small Caliber Systems, was recognized for receiving the contract to continue operations at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant for the next seven to 10 years, in addition to being Eastern Jackson County’s largest employer.
    As the chamber experiences significant change with the recent departure of several staff members and the arrival of the new President/CEO Franklin “Kim” Kimbrough, both the outgoing and incoming board chairmen spoke of the importance of change.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Changes have been made and will continue to be made as we strive to build on the 92-year legacy of this chamber, changes that I believe are vital to stay relevant, to stay engaged, and most importantly, to be of service to the business community,” said outgoing board chairman Brad Constance. “This is a great city, and this is a great organization. But, it is great because we adapt, because we look forward, and because we realize that there is an opportunity in every challenge.”
    Kimbrough said he doesn’t take his new role with the Independence chamber, which he began last October, lightly.
    “It is my personal goal to not only return this proud chamber to the ranks of the largest business associations in Missouri – where it belongs, I might add – but also help make this chamber one of the most relevant and responsive to its members and to the communities that it serves,” Kimbrough said. “Independence and its businesses deserve no less. ... The chamber’s accomplished much, for which we should all be proud, but even greater days are ahead.”

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