The individual responsible for keeping the Coal Country Chamber of Commerce Choo Choo chugging along for CCCC events was named the recipient of this year’s CCCC Sprit Award during Saturday night’s annual CCCC Banquet at JoDanni’s Amore, Benld. The Chamber also named Mickey Robinson, long-time CCCC Executive Director, and his spouse, Emmlee, as recipients of the Chamber’s first Founders Award to recognize “exceptional dedication” to the Chamber and its goals.
Presenting the Spirit Award, CCCC Secretary Annetta Veres, thanked Konneker for his work and added, “our organization would not run as smoothly and successfully without you.”
He does all this with so much pride and joy
“He pulls the tires, checks the brakes, puts on fresh coats of paint when needed and makes all the adjustments that keeps our Choo Choo up and running and looking great,” Veres said. “He also is the engineer for our Fall Festival and Snack with Santa.” For Snack with Santa, Konneker adds one car in the shape of a sleigh, which is reserved exclusively for Santa.
For CCCC events, Konneker hangs advertising banners for event sponsors, Veres said. With help from Gregg Crain, Konneker sets up vendor booths for the Fall Festival, moves supplies and equipment from storage and puts materials back when the event is concluded.
“He does all this with so much pride and joy,” Veres said. “We received numerous compliments, especially from people who are new in the community, who are impressed with the way the CCCC conducts its events, and we are very proud of all that this recipient does to make this happen.”
A surprised Konneker had little to say other than to thank the Chamber and note that his work represents a “small contribution” that makes him happy to do it.
The newly created Founders Award was not on the program, presumably to keep it secret from recipients Mickey and Emmlee Robinson. Board member John Veres sprung the award during closing remarks at the conclusion of the evening. Veres first introduced the CCCC board, telling attendees that “these are the people who make things happen” for the Chamber. With the board still at the podium, Veres then announced the creation of the Founders Award to recognize “exceptional dedication and service to the Chamber and its members.”
He said the Robinson’s are “two of our hardest working and dedicated workers.” Robinson was a founding member of the Chamber board when it formed in 1999, later assuming a role as the CCCC Executive Director. For nearly two decades he and his wife have taken a lead role in organizing major events such as the Fall Festival, CCCC Summer Concert Series, Holiday Sparkle and Snack with Santa.
I’ve learned to love my community more and really see the worth of all the people and what they do.
Presenting the award to Emmlee Robinson, Veres said, “Mickey would not be as successful as he is without this person next to him. She helps pull a lot of things together.”
Mickey Robinson thanked the Chamber but declined further comment.
“If it weren’t for Mickey, I probably wouldn’t be doing this,” Emmlee Robinson told the group. “I do it with love just because of him. Through him, I’ve learned to love my community more and really see the worth of all the people and what they do. It’s very important to Mickey that he can help in some way and I just try to give him my support.”