Pella Chronicle

March 5, 2014

Pella Chamber presents Hall of Fame Awards

By Clint Brown The Chronicle
The Pella Chronicle

---- — The Pella Chamber of Commerce honored five Hall of Fame Excellence Award recipients at their Annual Membership Meeting on Friday, February 28, 2014. Recipients were selected for the impact each has on the community, quality of life, and economy of Pella.

This is the 41st year for the Hall of Fame Awards. Each year the Chamber receives nominations from its members and the general public for businesses and individuals who have made a positive impact on the community.

A selection committee made up of current and former Chamber board members reviews the nominations and selects the recipients. Awards were presented by Chamber Board Members Cyndi Atkins and Trevor Castle.

According to the Pella Chamber, an Excellence Award recognizes the efforts of an individual or business that has had a long-lasting, positive impact on the quality of life and the economy of Pella. Each of the five award winners, in very unique and different ways, has unselfishly contributed their time, talents, treasures and teamwork year-after-year to make Pella a better community.

This year’s recipients are:

Larry De Vries

Larry’s involvement in the community is a testament to what can be achieved through partnerships, entrepreneurial spirit and recognizing needs in the community.

Approximately 15 years ago, Larry entered into a partnership with three individuals and the City of Pella to construct what had been a dream for many in Pella…a canal we now know as the Molengracht. A definite icon for the community, this area provides space for businesses, condos for residents, a hotel for guests, a great dining option and a public space for all to enjoy. Not every community can boast they have a canal but thanks in part to Larry – we can!

Recognizing the community’s need for various housing options, Larry developed Fountain Hills, a moderate to upscale housing development on the north edge of the community. He also saw the need for maintenance-free upscale rentals, in response he built many duplexes in Pella. Larry was also instrumental in as an investor in Vriendschap Village, an apartment complex for independent and assisted senior living. But he didn’t stop there, he also recognized Pella’s growing tourism industry and the need to accommodate more visitors, forming a partnership to build the Comfort Inn Hotel to give visitors more hotel rooms to meet their needs. Larry’s impact also is felt through his generosity to the community. Many non-profit projects and activities have benefitted from his giving; far too many to mention, but each better off because of a caring spirit.

Roger Duven

Roger’s dedication to the community can be summed up into one word “compassion”. His compassion shines through in his career and his volunteer roles.

For the past 50 years Roger has been with Van Dyk-Duven Funeral Home helping families through some of their worst moments with true compassion and professionalism. A role not for many, Roger has provided more for each of the families he has worked with than he will ever know.

He also shares his compassion through leadership roles with many community organizations such as Christian Opportunity Center, Pine Rest Clinic, Pella Regional Health Center, Christian Benevolent Association and First Reformed Church. One of his personal highlights includes a year spent in Japan sharing his skills with the advancement of embalming as a component to their ceremonial rites.

Although Roger has modeled his career after his grandfather and father, he has left his own individual mark on community and with many families.

Barb Kniff McCulla

Barb has a can-do attitude in everything from her business perspective to the organizations she represents.

In 1979, Barb’s late husband Kevin began KLK Construction specializing in underground telecommunication services. After his sudden passing in 1995, Barb took over as CEO knowing very little about the business. Over the years Barb has grown the company from 20 to over 50+ employees and has expanded services beyond laying cross-country fiber optic lines to include laying lines for wind generators and other utility work.

Barb saw a need for additional commercial space in Pella but had little development experience. That, however, did not stop her. She created a partnership with a small group of investors and built ViewPointe, a commercial development on the west edge of the community. ViewPointe created space for commercial businesses, a car dealership, a restaurant and a future income based apartment complex which will be completed later this summer.

Barb also lends her talents to many community and state organizations. She is a trustee of Central College, on the board of directors for MidWestOne Bank, the Christian Opportunity Center and the Pella Area Development Corporation Boards. She has been appointed by the Governor to the Workforce Investment Board for Region 11, a member of the Pella Community Foundation Board and is very active in Third Reformed Church.

Nola Vander Streek

Nola’s entrepreneurial spirit has spanned more than six decades in Pella.

Her entrepreneurial ventures are all in retail but are vastly different. Nola and her late husband Lloyd opened the Pella Bootery store in the 1950’s providing shoes and boots for the community for many years. She and her husband also began a tree farm which provided countless homes in Pella with fresh Christmas trees. In the late 1990’s, as cell phones were in their infancy, she and her husband entered into yet another venture opening a cell phone store, realizing that these things may catch on! After the expected passing of Nola’s husband in 2002, she continued their businesses and helped each to grow. Just a few years ago she closed the tree farm, but has expanded the Central Cellular store to three other communities and continues to realize the growth potential in the wireless industry.

Nola recently retired from serving as the Pella Community School census taker for 52 years going from house-to-house and farm-to-farm to get an update on pre-kindergarten children. She served as the area’s correspondent for the Des Moines Register providing local news and wrote the first article for the Pella Chronicle on the needs and accomplishments of various Tulip Time committees.

Through all of Nola’s ventures she has continued her membership to the Pella Chamber for 65 years, starting with the Bootery and continuing with Central Cellular. Nola has successfully filled many niches for our community over the years.

Pete Verhey

Pete started his career at Marion County Bank 40 years ago as a teller. From that position he moved to opening accounts and then became a consumer loan officer. He soon began work in the commercial loan area and then in 1999 was promoted to President and CEO. In his role as CEO, Pete led the bank in growth, from 125 million to 218 million dollars in assets.

During his time as president and CEO, Pete played a critical role in keeping Marion County Bank locally owned when the Vermeer family decided to sell the bank in 2000. To this day, the bank is still locally owned and reinvests millions of dollars back into the community through payroll, taxes, and donations.

After ten years as Marion County Bank’s President, Pete semi-retired and transitioned to President of the Bank’s holding company, Pella Financial Group. The day after this decision, a dear friend introduced him to the PET Ministry. A PET (Personal Energy Transportation) is a wheel chair propelled by a hand-crank that is designed for rough terrain. Since then, Pete and other volunteers have produced over 800 PETs.

In addition to his career at Marion County Bank and his PET project, Pete has been on the boards of PADCO, Kiwanis, COC, Bethany Christian Services and the Pella Chamber of Commerce. Pete was the finance coordinator for the PCHS new campus building project, served on the fundraising committee for the Comfort House and as a youth group leader at Calvary CRC for over 20 years.

While Pete has been in banking for 40 years, he has shown his commitment to the community through his career and his passions.