PITTSBURG, Kan. — This year’s Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet on Thursday included many changes to promote personal health and safety, including facemasks, temperature checks and hand sanitizer.


Another notable change, a first in the event’s history, was the outdoor format at Kansas Crossing Casino which allowed for appropriate social distancing. The Chamber was able to celebrate the progress that has taken place over the past year in the Pittsburg area, while recognizing numerous businesses and community leaders that continue to make "Pittsburg Strong."


"Our annual banquet provides us with a chance to say thank you and to highlight so many of the great businesses and individuals that have played a significant role in making our community a better place to live," Pittsburg Area Chamber President Blake Benson said in a press release.


Those honored by the Chamber included:


• Spirit of Pittsburg – Rebecca Adamson, Dr. Timothy Stebbins, Dr. Linda Bean


• Small Business of the Year – Riggs Chiropractic


• City of Pittsburg Employer of the Year – U.S. Awards, Inc.


• Educator of the Year – Cooper Neil, Pittsburg High School


• Chamber Volunteer of the Year – Lori Ann Spacheck, State Farm Insurance


• Business Education Alliance (BEA) Bill Coleman Business Partner of the Year – Southeast KANSASWORKS


• BEA Jerry Lindberg Volunteer of the Year – Mark Johnson, Pittsburg State University


• BEA Koeta Bryant Education Partner of the Year – Kelynn Heardt, Pittsburg High School


Finalists for the Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by BKD, LLP, were Riggs Chiropractic, Jones Heritage Realtors, ReNu Medical & Spa and Wood-Dulohery Insurance, Inc.


The finalists for the Educator of the Year Award, sponsored by Pitsco Education, were Lakeside Elementary School’s Bridget Walker, Pittsburg High School’s Cooper Neil and Girard High School’s Joe Curran.