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Captains of Riverbend Award winners reflect cross-section of Alton area community



GODFREY – The RiverBend Growth Association celebrated the successes and accomplishments of six local businesses at its annual State of the RiverBend Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 27, at the Commons in Lewis and Clark Community College.

The Captain of the Riverbend Awards were created by the Growth Association to identify and honor the many ways in which local organizations have enhanced the Riverbend region.

The awards are presented to businesses, bodies of government and individuals that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to public enhancement, community service and /or economic enhancement of the region.

Jeannine Kelly of DanMar Enterprises accepted an award for economic enhancement for the work and investment she and her husband Mark DeVer have made in the last year.

DanMar’s primary focus has been on purchasing historic buildings and restoring and rehabbing them to their original glory. Jeannine and her husband were recognized for their most recent endeavor-their investment in The Talbert Building and the old Pawn Shop which is now called the Shops at Broadway and Henry. They have invested well over a half million dollars in those buildings and have made a huge improvement to that part of Broadway. The Painted Heron is the newest tenant at “The Shops” and it is owned and run by Julie Elmendorf. Julie’s shop is an upscale consignment shop featuring custom painted furniture, unique gift items and totes made from vintage linens. The Talbert Building now houses The Underground on Broadway, a concert venue and community store.

Mike and Lori Nikonovich accepted their award for economic enhancement for their work and investment in the Grafton Winery The Vineyards which was opened in the fall of 2015 at a cost of more than $2 million.

The Vineyards has a wedding/event venue, tasting room and vineyards. The Vineyards features 6,000 square feet of production space and an automated bottling line with a 100 case per hour capacity. This added capacity has given them the ability to cultivate new distributors and has increased the business more than 40 percent since opening. Wines are currently distributed all over Illinois through six distributors and they have now added a distributor in Missouri. Retail sales and weddings and events have increased by 15 percent. Their Quarterly Wine Club boasts more than 500 members.

The third award was to Lewis & Clark Community College for Government and Public Enhancement for the Scott Bibb Center.

Formerly known as Saint Patrick’s Elementary School, their $5.6 million investment transformed the school and now offers services that include GED preparation and completion, family literacy, community technology, Project Read and tutoring, highway construction, YouthBuild and family education – all aimed at helping adults who may not have finished high school get on the right path to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Formerly known as Shell Community Credit Union, Midwest Members Credit Union was recognized for its community involvement in the River Bend. Midwest Members supports many organizations in the community including the RiverBend Growth Association, Alton Memorial Red Cross Auxiliary, National Children’s Cancer Society, community baseball leagues, local park departments and our local high schools. In addition to giving these organizations tens of thousands of dollars in support, they also encourage and support their employees’ involvement in the organizations. They also provide educational courses in our local schools called Mad City Money.

Robert “Chick” Fritz Inc. received the award for its Community Involvement.

Anne, Bob and Bobby Fritz accepted on behalf of the third-generation family owned and operated local business that will soon be celebrating 70 years. Fritz is extremely active and visible in the Riverbend. Most notably, you’ll see staff at every Alton Amphitheater event as they are not only a major sponsor, but are highly involved in the Alton Amphitheater Commission.

They are there setting up before events, serving their fine products at the event, and cleaning up after the event. They are involved in and support local political fundraisers, numerous local Octoberfests, church picnics and golf tournament fund-raisers. They support local ball tournaments and belong to and support each of their chambers of commerce organizations. One of their newest sponsored events was the Downtown Alton Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration where they coordinated with the RiverBend Growth Association and the Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau.

TheBANK of Edwardsville was also recognized for Community Enhancement. Their philosophy is that the path to success is paved by education, which is where the institution puts a lot of support. Its endeavors include scholarships to local high school students, an annual Lewis & Clark scholarship, educational programs in grade schools that have reached more than 5,000 students in 2015 and support for programs at SIUE. TheBANK has given cash contributions to more than 60 area non-profit organizations. They have supported more than 30 organizations with in-kind donations which includes everything from water for golf tournaments to auction items and basket raffle items for special events.

More than 30 River Bend area employees are involved and give many hours of their time to the non-profit organizations in the community.

After the awards, RBGA president Monica Bristow touted the investments in the Riverbend
communities that totaled nearly $1 billion. Those investments included infrastructure projects like roads, sewer, water, electric; private investment in commercial, housing and retail projects and institutional investment by public schools, the college and our municipalities. She also reminded the attendees that Saturday, Nov. 26, is Small Business Saturday. She encouraged all to Shop Local and Spend Local.

Event sponsors included:

• 1st MidAmerica Credit Union
• Advantage News
• Alton Center Business Park
• Alton Community Unit School Dist. #11
• Alton Memorial Hospital
• American Water
• Argosy Casino Alton
• Beverly Farm
• Carrollton Bank
• CNB Bank & Trust, N.A.
• Contegra Construction Co.
• DanMar Enterprises, Inc.
• Evergreen Place Supportive Living
• Illinois American Water

• Lewis and Clark Community College
• Liberty Bank
• Midwest Members Credit Union
• OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center
• Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery
• St. Louis Regional Airport
• St. Louis Regional Chamber
• The Telegraph
• TheBANK of Edwardsville
• Village of Godfrey
• WBGZ /

The RBGA’s next event will be its Annual Dinner held on Thursday, January 26 where the 12 Small Businesses of the Month will be honored and Chairman’s awards will be given.

                                                                                    – Article submitted by the RiverBend Growth Association

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