RIVER FALLS -- A sea of plaid filled the room as the River Falls Chamber of Commerce gathered for its annual awards and recognition banquet Thursday, Jan. 30, with a flannel and frost theme.

Chamber members looked back on a year that saw staffing changes and a new strategic plan, and honored nominees with its annual awards.

Terry McKay was named the citizen of the year, an award that recognizes role models in the community. McKay was described as compassionate and very involved, and someone who would always say yes to helping in the community.

River Falls is the place to be, with the best people around, McKay said.

“I wouldn’t be here without all of you,” McKay said, “So thank you. I am so humbled and so honored.”

Brooke Dusk was awarded the ambassador of the year. The award honors a chamber ambassador who demonstrates volunteerism, active participation in chamber events and goes above and beyond to welcome new members.

Nonprofit of the year was awarded to Our Neighbors' Place, an organization that provides support to those in need through its backpack program, day center, transitional housing and community closet store.

“We work hard every day and we really appreciate all the support,” Executive Director Shelly Smith said, “and this hopefully means that we’re doing a better job about getting the word out about the needs that are there, the ways that you can help and support us, and just all the good that there is here in River Falls.”

Mariachi Loco was named the small business of the year, awarded to businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

“We have been here for 14 years and we are happy to share a little bit of Mexico with everyone,” Alicia Duran said.

Large business of the year honors went to Chippewa Valley Technical College.

“We’re very committed to west central Wisconsin and to River Falls. We are here to provide the skilled workers that you need to succeed and we’re very, very dedicated to that,” President Bruce Barker said.

Amanda Linehan was named the chamber champion for her dedication to the chamber and willingness to step up when needed.