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Chamber will dole out awards without banquet
Bud Runyan award
Lots has changed in society since this January 2020 Chamber banquet where Bud Runyan received the "Citizen of the Year" honor. Because of COVID restrictions on large gatherings, the annual banquet will not happen this year. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

For the first time since 1969, the Ceres Chamber of Commerce will not be honoring a “Citizen of the Year” in a banquet setting. Because of precautions related to COVID-19, the banquet won’t be held later this month as tradition would dictate but the Chamber will be issuing its annual awards in another fashion.

“We’ve waited as long as we could to see if the state would revoke the stay-at-home orders, but that just hasn’t happened and we can’t foresee how long the orders will remain in effect,” said Renee Ledbetter, executive director of the Ceres Chamber.

The Chamber Board of Directors agreed to accept public nominations until Jan. 31. Once nominations close, the nominees will be voted on by Chamber members and the winners will be announced Feb. 24.

To submit a nomination, visit

This marks the 52nd year that the Ceres Chamber of Commerce has recognized outstanding members of the community who have made extraordinary contributions to Ceres, during its annual Community Awards & Installation Dinner. 

“We know that 2020 was a difficult year with many challenges, but there are members of this community that continue day-in and day-out to give to this community, to work and volunteer for the good of Ceres and its citizens,” said Ledbetter. “Those people deserve to be recognized and honored even if we can’t do a live event. But we need the public’s help in finding out who those people are and what they’ve accomplished during this difficult year. If you or someone you know is deserving of one of these awards, we want to know.”

The award categories for nominations are “Distinguished Service,” “Volunteer of the Year,” “Large Business of the Year” for businesses with under 35 employees, “Small Business of the Year” for businesses with 35 or more employees, “Legacy Award” (businesses active for 40 or more years), “Young Citizen of the Year” and “Citizen of the Year Lifetime Achievement” awards. Past Citizens of the Year will select the winner for that category, while the Chamber membership will vote on the remaining categories.

Chamber officials are hopeful that COVID restrictions will be relaxed soon so that everyone can resume a normal life. Ledbetter said that the Chamber would like to once again conduct ribbon cutting ceremonies and host other events like morning coffees.

Although the Chamber office has been closed to the public, staff and directors are still available by phone at 537-2601 or by email at