Garden City business owners and Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce members set aside Thursday night to recognize lifesavers, a growing, organic startup, a one-woman show, a generational independent regional empire and, finally, a local icon.

As outgoing 2018 Chamber Board Chair, Liz Scheopner thanked the audience for wishing for a good year at the organization's last banquet. After a year of community, civic and entrepreneurial outreach, it had worked, she said.

In 2018, the chamber held a host of ribbon cuttings and after hours events.

It held five legislative coffees, which have been lauded as some of the most informative and well-attended in the state, Schoepner said. It packed auditoriums with Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primary debates, as well as the final governor’s debate at the end of the year. There were dozens of workshops and ribbon cuttings and after-hours events, allowing local businesses to connect with the community and each other, she said.

Scheopner introduced 2019 Chamber Board Chair Maxine Atkinson, and the night quickly turned to the businesses and entrepreneurs that make up the chamber. The 2018 Nonprofit Business of the Year went to the Finney County Humane Society, the Emerging Business of the Year to Roots Juice Co. and Wellness Studio, the Small Business of the Year to Janet Doll Goldsmith and the Large Business of the Year to Keller Leopold Insurance Agency.

Chamber ambassador Ciara Crandall of Samy’s Enterprises was named the Ambassador of the Year.

In the 1990s, the old Garden City animal shelter had about a 95 percent euthanasia rate, among other care issues. After years of slow improvement, and rapid change when the Humane Society took over in 2017, the euthanasia rates have dropped dramatically and other programs have risen, said Executive Director Nikki Spanier as she accepted the award for the Humane Society.

Throughout the night, people harkened back to the community that bore them or welcomed them that night.

Emmy-winning keynote speaker Bill Stainton illustrated markers of success through The Beatles. The band, like local businesses, had learned to share the credit and spotlight, solidify under a unified vision, play to their strengths and be open to change.

Roots owner Alicia Gian-Maciulis thanked the City of Garden City and Downtown Vision for offering significant incentives to new businesses and helping her and her partners take their first steps.

Doug Keller of Keller Leopold turned to his team, recognizing employees who had been there more than 10, 15, 20 years.

Doll, like some of the other members, turned to the community, thanking them for the support that made her business possible.

At the end of the night, the Chamber turned to its annual Award of Merit honoree — a lifetime Garden City resident, a Garden City High School graduate and diehard University of Kansas fan. She's been a community servant and Garden City Community College teacher, counselor, recruiting coordinator and administrator, among so much more. This year's award went to Beth Tedrow, who took the stage smiling.

“Wow,” she said, before thanking her family.

“Before they made this into a commons area, there was a little greenhouse that jutted out there, and that’s where I taught physical science for a couple of years, and geometry," Tedrow said, referring to the commons area at Horace Good Middle School that formerly was the old Garden City High School. "And a lot of you in this room were in the first few classes. I really felt sorry for you."

Laughter rolled through the audience.

“I am so thrilled,” Tedrow said. “This is beyond belief.”

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.