The Somerset Chamber of Commerce and business community celebrated their successes and heralded annual awards at the Chamber's Excellence in Business Awards Dinner & Gala at the St. Croix National Golf & Event Center Tuesday, Feb. 6.

The 2017 Business of the Year award went to David Bracht Realty of Property Executives Realty. Nominees for the award included Amy McCune & Associates, Carpeting by Mike and Somerset Amphitheater.

"I didn't really expect this, but thank you very much for the honor," said owner David Bracht.

The 2017 Ambassador of the Year award went to Amy McCune of Amy McCune & Associates, with other nominees including: Judy Price of First National Community Bank and Shawnah Breault of Melaleuca: The Wellness Company.

The 2017 Service & Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Award went to Donna Emmert a volunteer with the Somerset School District.

Other nominees included: Brea Bradshaw, Cory Kreibich, Erin Cramer, Jaimie Palbicki, Jean Wendt, Julie Fretz, Kelly Emerson, Kym Dunleap, Lorri Baillargeon, Ryan Herink, Shannon Donnelly, Sonja Monner and Toni Polfus.

The final two awards of the night were new this year, including the 2018 Director's Award and the 2018 Legacy Award.

"We decided this year to honor a couple individuals whose commitment and contributions really have been extraordinary. So our nominating committee decided to create two awards," said Chamber Executive Director Beckah Whitlock. "The Director's Award goes with deep appreciations to Dr. Mark Bezek, who is being recognized for extraordinary contributions and a commitment to the Chamber of Commerce, its mission as well as to the community."

The second of the new awards was the Legacy Award, which went to Mike Faust of Carpeting by Mike. Faust was unable to make it to the gala due to the weather, so his daughter, Typhannie Watson, accepted the award on his behalf.

"This person's dedication to the Somerset community and Chamber is second to none. He is a pillar of excellence in our business community, exemplifies best business practices and ethics and has faced and won many challenges, both in his professional and personal life," Whitlock said. "His generosity is a big part of his endearment to many in the community and outside. And the impact he has had, and will continue to have, on the Somerset community is truly restorative and deserves recognition."

Earlier in the evening, Whitlock also outlined the Chamber's new strategic plan and what it means for the organization going forward.

"I would like to thank Dr. Mark Bezek for his help with our new strategic plan. This man has generously donated his time to help us with the plan," said Whitlock. "Our new mission statement is: Together we will promote, support and bridge business with community through economic development and opportunity.

"We've also developed new core values: We believe all businesses are valuable, in developing trusted leaders, in driving positive cultural changes, in operating with integrity and in promoting prosperity and success. Our objectives for 2018-2023 are to inform, connect, advocate and listen."

Following the awards, the Chamber welcomed special guests Sen. Patty Schachtner - who is also a member of the Somerset School Board - along with Justin Rivard - the Somerset student who invented the JustinKase door jam - and members of the Somerset School store, the Colosseum. Both Rivard and the Colosseum were granted honorary membership into the Somerset Chamber of Commerce for 2018.

"We grant honorary memberships to Young Entrepreneurs in Somerset and try to help connect them with resources to develop a stronger foundation for the businesses and encourage their growth," Whitlock said. "Watching the members give Justin a standing ovation was touching and an experience beyond indescribable. I have no doubt that under the guidance of Jen Sutton (Somerset High School business teacher) and with the encouragement of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, every one of these kids will go far and do great things in the future."