Banker earns chamber's top honor

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Local banker, tireless volunteer and devoted family man Landon Fletcher was presented with the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce's 2013 Community Service Award at Saturday night's annual banquet.

In announcing the award, outgoing chamber president Gary Whyte described Fletcher as a man who "quietly works behind the scenes and is willing to assist in any project that comes along without a lot of recognition or accolades."

Fletcher is currently serving as vice president of First State Bank. His banking career has also included tenures with Commerce Bank and Security Bank of Southwest Missouri.

Outside of work, Fletcher has been extremely involved in a large number of community organizations, including the Lions Club, the Cassville Rotary Club, the Barry County Republican Club and the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves as president of the Cassville Senior Housing Board, a position he's held since 1997.

Most notably, Fletcher was instrumental in establishing PACE in 1992 and the Cassville Community Foundation (CCF) in 2004. During his time as president, he led the community to complete successful campaigns for both Cooper Challenges and Hunger Challenges, which secured sizable grants to support various local charitable organizations and build up the CCF's grant-making endowment.

"As you can see, Landon has served with many different organizations in the Cassville area throughout his banking career," said Whyte.

Among his most prized achievements are his 43-year marriage to wife, Brenda, and raising his two daughters, Leslie Smith and Stacy Runnels. The Fletchers now spend a large majority of their free time with their five grandchildren.

Other award winners

Also receiving chamber awards were Willis Insurance and Commerce Bank. These two businesses, which both marked 125th anniversaries in 2012, earned Community Business Involvement Awards in recognition of their long-term investment in the Cassville community.

Beautification Awards were presented to McDonald's in Cassville, which is owned and operated by Bill and Walter Mathews, of Springdale, Ark., and to Bob and Carolyn Bishop and Chuck and Pat Pilant.

The Bishops and Pilants partnered together in a project to restore the building at the northeast corner of Main and Eighth streets. The Bishops made a major investment in exterior renovations while the Pilants focused their efforts on the interior of the building, which houses their business, Towneley Furnishings.

McDonald's recently underwent a renovation that added two new drive-through lanes and a new more modern facade.

Motivational message

In addition to the annual announcement of chamber awards, chamber members were inspired by the words of Peter Herschend, the banquet's featured speaker.

Herschend, co-founder and co-owner of Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., which operates Silver Dollar City in Branson and other attractions across the United States, said his history with Cassville dates back to when he was 18 years old and delivering brochures for Marvel Cave.

"The more things change, the more things stay the same," said Herschend. "What was wonderful about Cassville back then is wonderful today. It's all of you."

Herschend spoke about Silver Dollar City's mission and purpose and compared it to Cassville's. He said there were four factors that contributed to the success of Silver Dollar City, including its location in the Ozarks and its people.

"Many places in the United States would kill to have just one and here you sit with two (the people and being located in the Ozarks)," said Herschend. "The Ozarks are a remarkable gift. You didn't do anything to make the Ozarks happen. God did that."

Friendliness is another factor that Herschend said keeps people coming back to Silver Dollar City, and to Cassville.

"The gift that you all bring here in the greater Cassville area is the gift of warmth, of charm, of caring," said Herschend. "When visitors have a need, they're taken care of. That can't happen unless each of you are taking care of your fellow man, your neighbor."

Cassville's proximity to Roaring River State Park also makes Cassville special, Herschend said.

"This is one of Cassville's unique selling points," said Herschend. "No place else in a 400- to 500-mile circle has a Roaring River State Park."

Herschend ended his speech by challenging chamber members to consider what they want Cassville to be and to work hard to make that shared vision a reality.

"You are in a unique position to make a difference," said Herschend. "It's your collective decision to be better than just good enough. It takes work. It doesn't happen by itself. You all have to be part of it."

Whyte ended the evening by thanking Chamber Executive Director Mindi Artherton for her hard work and support throughout the year.

"This young lady puts 110 percent into her job," said Whyte. "Her compliment list is long, and her vision for the chamber is exciting to be part of."

Music for the evening was provided by Jo Ellen Fielding, and Tom Thomas, minister of the First Christian Church in Cassville, offered the invocation. John Sullivan catered the event, and Accents-N-Tents provided the decor. Members of the Cassville High School FCCLA Chapter helped serve guests, who filled the high school commons area to capacity.

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