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On Thursday the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce held their annual Farmer Merchant Banquet. Top awards of the night included the Presidential Award, Service Organization of the Year Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, Citizen of the Year Award and Woman in Business and Leadership Award.

This year Shop With a Cop was awarded Service Organization of the Year. Shop With a Cop helps hundreds of children in need, from all over Southeast Idaho, have a merry Christmas. Rexburg Police Lt. Colin Erickson and Colette Davison are the main organizers of the event and spend hundreds of hours working with the community and businesses on donations to help these children. They accepted the award on behalf of the program and all those who keep it going.

“I think it’s exciting I think it’s a great program that’s done a lot for the communities in the area,” Erickson said. “And I just think it’s all about the kids and we just want to keep doing this and keep providing Christmas for the youth of our community.”

Madison School District Superintendant Dr. Geoffrey Thomas was awarded the lifetime achievement award. Thomas has five degrees that include a doctorate in Educational Leadership. He has served as superintendent since 2001. Under his leadership the district has been in the top five Idaho districts for academic student achievement. The district has won 56 state academic championships, built three schools, remodeled four schools and started the Madison Cares and Madison Online programs.

When asked how he felt about the award, Thomas said he was “very honored and really grateful. It’s a wonderful community and it’s wonderful to be recognized. It’s deeply appreciated.”

Citizen of The Year Award was presented to Brett Sampson, Brigham Young University-Idaho Public Affairs Director and Community Liaison. He has worked with LDS Philanthropies within Rexburg for the first 13 years of his residence in Rexburg. He has held his current title for seven years. Sampson has served on the Chamber Board of Directors since 2013 and served as Chairman of the Board in 2016.

“(I am) Honored and surprised,” Sampson said. “I think anything I’ve done for Citizen of the Year is because of what the university has asked me to do. And things right now are just really good and cooperative and productive. So it’s an honor.”

Sally Smith received the Woman in Business and Leadership Award. She is the former president of the Rexburg City Council, she was president for six of the eight years she served on the council. She’s served on several committees including the Chamber of Commerce and Family Crisis Center Board of Directors. She was the first woman president of the Snake River Multiple Listing Service and recently received the Emeritus award from the National Association of Realtors for 40 years in the real estate business.

“I am very grateful for the award,” Smith said. “I appreciate it a lot and I’m happy that they voted for me.”

Madison Memorial Hospital received the 2019 Presidential Award. The hospital’s CEO Rachel Gonzales accepted the award on behalf of the hospital and it’s employees. Madison Memorial has a fully equipped emergency room and surgical department. The hospital offers several specialists including those specialized in cancer treatment and hip and knee replacement. It has more than 600 employees and services Madison County and surrounding areas.

“It is quite an honor to be a part of the celebration of the community coming together,” she said. “And we’re honored and tickled that the community sees the value that the hospital brings to the area.”

Other awards from the evening included the Soil and Water Conservationist of the Year which was given to Brett Ricks, Farmer of the Year was awarded to Rhett Summers, Educators of the Year was presented to Principal Rex Fullmer and Kershaw Educator Holly Harrison. Business Person of the Year was awarded to David and Jenelle Thueson of Homestead Assisted Living, The Beautification Award was presented to Madison High School for their work on the Bobcats’ Stadium. Medical Professional of the Year was given to Rachelle Jones FNP-C and Rebecca Jepson FNP-C of Vista Healthcare. Business of the Year was Wolfe Lighting, Customer Service Award was presented to Idaho Central Credit Union and Public Servant of the Year went to Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill.