We made it past the holidays and onto a brand-new year. Hard to believe the calendar when you see 2018 staring back at you.
Most of us have spent a few weeks looking for the perfect gifts for loved ones, employees, clients, pets, teachers, and a host of others. It’s time you shift that generosity to yourself and your business with these gifts you should be giving.
Gifts to Give Yourself and Your Business in the New Year
4. Hydration. Yes, seriously. It’s too easy to get busy and forget but our bodies are ¾ water so it’s an important one. While you’re at it buy yourself a cup you love, and it’ll be easier.
5. Assistance. Maybe it’s time to hire help. It doesn’t have to come in a full-time role if you’re not sure about it. You can use a virtual assistant or project person to handle things while you gauge the workload. Still, getting someone on board to handle a few of the things that keep you up at night may make you feel better.
6. Volunteering. Do something for someone else. Volunteer a few hours at a soup kitchen, mentor a young professional, or create a program at your business that gives employees a few hours to help in the community. It helps your marketing too.
7. Simplicity. Look for ways to streamline things personally, professionally, and in your business. Your future self will thank you.
8. No. Yes, “no” is a gift. Stop saying yes to everything simply out of obligation. Say no more so that you can give more attention to the things you really want to say yes to and those that will help you achieve your goals.
9. Trust. Business owners must trust their employees and while most say they do, they often have created an environment where the subordinates don’t feel empowered to make decisions on their own. Make sure you’re clear about what they can (or can’t) handle on their own. You’ll have far fewer interruptions if you take the time to clear up the process.
10. Less television. Television is a time suck. Even if you enjoy unwinding every night in front of it, you may not be aware that you are losing hours and hours out of your day or your valuable sleep.
11. Sleep. 7-8 hours. Anything less impairs cognitive and decision-making abilities.
`12. Chamber membership. It’s not enough to just pay the dues. Use your membership this year to grow your business in a new way. Extend your network, get involved, volunteer, or ask for assistance. There’s likely a whole world of services you’re not using.
13. Ending a bad habit. You have one. If it’s unhealthy or taking up room in your head, get rid of it.
14. Inspiration. Start keeping a journal or carry a notebook or use your phone and begin capturing the things that inspire you. Then once a month or so look for ways you can use those in your business.
15. Quiet. It’s hard to hear the inspiration when you don’t take a moment to listen to the silence.
16. Upgraded tech. If it’s been a while, you’re due.
17, Organization. Select one area of your home or life and organize it. Areas you might target are pictures, the basement, your storeroom, apps, your desk or your mind.
18, Reading. This year read something you normally wouldn’t and see if it doesn’t make you think or reconsider previous thoughts. If you read fiction, try non-fiction. If you never read anything more than a magazine or a blog post, try something that’s a larger commitment. If you always read books, try an audiobook.
19. Consistency. Try setting out a plan and sticking to it or, if that’s what you always do, try something unexpected and unplanned. Shake 2018 up. Finally…
20. Challenge. It’s nice to live in comfort but no growth occurs there. Do something that terrifies you this year.
It’s time to recognize and applaud the talented, dedicated and driven small business owners whose entrepreneurial spirit helps drive our communty’s economy forward. Small business entrepreneurship has evolved from a growing trend to an inarguable contributor to the economic success, job growth and innovative backbone of this country. It’s an exciting time for Osceola’s small town businesses. The downtown has turned the corner. Our once empty storefronts are nearly full and as importantly- most are independent, and locally owned businesses. Community-serving businesses are the backbone of our local economy, civic life, local giving, and wealth creation for many of our friends and neighbors, as well as a training ground for future generations of entrepreneurs.
However, filling the storefronts is just the beginning. Many challenges place multiple stresses on our commercial core that must fight turnover and we must now look for ways to retain these new businesses so they can thrive in this competitive environment. While our small business’ success is certainly not the Village or the Chamber’s responsibility entirely, business owners can’t do it alone. A collaborative effort, and supportive attitude that combines the unique resources and vantage points of both public and private sectors, is essential. As we prepare for the upcoming Holiday Season, each citizen can support the small businesses of our area-plan to shop small this year for at least some of your shopping and services ---and know that your dollar spent in a small business will make a big impact where you live.
5 Must-Do Weekend Itineraries
The landscape alone makes the trip to Osceola, WI worth it. A scenic drive that crests small hills and winds along the St. Croix River, with family farms swelling above a rolling sea of golden corn fields eventually giving way to mammoth roadside rock cliffs and forestland painted in an explosion of color.
Since the steamboat and railroad eras, travelers have sought out Osceola in the fall to admire the deep maroon of sumac and Virginia creeper, the yellows and golds of hackberry, aspen and green ash, and the rich oranges and reds of sugar maples and pin oaks mingling with the ever-green evergreens. But Osceola is so much more than a pretty view. Discover unforgettable things to do and places to eat and stay while you pursue the hues. Don’t forget your camera.
FALL COLOR Viewing
1. PRIMO PEEPING
Fall foliage in the St. Croix Valley is legendary. Variegated hues of red, orange, yellow, green, purple and brown sweep over the highest riverside bluffs, down into the valley and back up through the rolling countryside. The colors hit their peak sometime in late September/early October and create a stupefying spectacle that humbles even the most seasoned leaf peepers.
Fall Colors by Plane: View the entire palette of autumn hues from above on an aerial tour of the region. The panoramic views feature the St. Croix River Valley, inland forests and local lakes. Notice the unique blend of trees that contribute to the rich, vibrant color pattern below.
Fall Colors by Train: Enjoy an excursion through the St. Croix River Valley in autumn splendor in a vintage train ride.Board the train in Osceola. The "Marine on St. Croix" excursion travels west 90-minutes round-trip winding the bluffs of the St. Croix River Valley and offers amazing scenic views!
Fall Colors by Riverboat: Old-fashioned paddlewheel boats churn through the St. Croix offering guided tours of some of the most scenic vantage points on the river, including uncanny rock formations and the best spots for fall color.
Eat: On select train rides, you can purchase Brunch, Dinner, or Pizza train tickets. Eat on the train or plan for a stop in the Historic Downtown where you'll find ice cream, coffee houses, burgers and farm to table fare or elegant cuisine in a variety of settings from outdoor patios overlooking the falls to MainStreet Bistro tables.. Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours serves up a three-course meal, live music and a full cash bar aboard its dinner cruises, keeping you in the thick of the leaf peeping action while you eat.
Stay: Situated high on the bluffs, the St. Croix River Inn masterfully combines charming historical elegance with modern day amenities and comfort. Each of the seven spacious and distinctive rooms features a hydromassage tub, comfy queen bed, a cozy ambiance and an amazing view.
2. QUEST FOR THE PERFECT PUMPKIN
Small or large, round or oblong, smooth or scarred . . . Bright orange globes dot acres of bucolic fields around Osceola, begging to be picked and turned into jack-o-lanterns, homages to fall, Thanksgiving centerpieces, and tasty pies.
Neumann Farms: Fall brings the bounty of the the farm in for all to see. A short distance from Osceola, Neumann Farms has tons of pumpkins, gourds, squash,corn stalks and comes complete with a pick your own pumpkin patch, fully stocked gift shop and farm kitties.
The Pumpkin Express Train & Bash: In late October, the Pumpkin Express departs from the historic Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railroad depot and travels the old SOO Line track through spectacular fall scenery to Dresser, WI where a day of family fun awaits. A hay bale maze, kid-friendly haunted depot, and hand-pump car rides on the train track are among the attractions at this event. Pumpkins are free for children under 15 years old.
Hayride to the Pumpkin Patch: Pleasant Valley Orchard has hundreds of pumpkins in an idyllic fall setting. Pick your favorite from a mound of pre-picked pumpkins or hop on a hayride for a rustic ride to the fields where you can hunt down exactly what you’re looking for. Apples are also ready to pluck. Check out Pleasant Valley’s vast orchard featuring 16 varieties.
Eat: A stone fireplace, spacious patio, and vintage canoe décor gives Tippy Canoes a cabin ambiance from which to enjoy downhome favorites (like the traditional Wisconsin Friday Fish Fry) or try something new (like the Tator Tot Hot Dish Pizza).
Stay: Just down the road from the historic downtown and shopping district (and steps away from Tippy Canoes), River Valley Inn and Suites provides standard hotel rooms and suites with a lobby and staff that represent the unique, welcoming charm of Osceola. The indoor pool and hot tub beckon guests to unwind on a brisk fall day.
3. THE AGRARIAN EXPERIENCE
Since the advent of farming, harvest time has been the herald of autumn. Crops are ripe for the picking and ready to be transformed into delicious edibles. With winter lurking just around the corner, fall also produces the last remaining days to frolic comfortably in the outdoors.
The Spoils of Harvest: Visitors to Neumann Farms experience a slice of country living: feeding goats while chickens scurry by, roaming through crop fields and pastureland, exploring an outdoor canning kitchen. Inside the quaint and homey gift shop, the spoils of the farm unfold, including fresh, cage-free eggs, hand-pressed apple cider, seasonal produce, and meats raised on site. For a delightful spin on a classic snack, try the popcorn popped right on the ear.
Corn Maze Challenge: Elaborate shapes with twists, turns and dead ends are carved into twelve acres of corn to create a life-size puzzle at Shafer Corn Maze. When seen from above, past mazes have taken the shape of dragons and castles, aliens, birds of prey, and moose. Finding your way out is only half the fun when you play the Treasure Hunt or Farm Scene Investigation within the maze. Additional challenges include a timed rope maze and human foosball. To remind you that you are on an actual farm, pigs, goats, sheep, geese, a calf, and a miniature horse are on display.
Eat: The vibe in Osceola is one of remembering the past while looking to the future, and the Watershed Café, named after and built on the site of the headquarters of the sawmill that formed the town, reflects that ideal. Locally sourced, farm-to-table made from scratch cuisine dominates the menu and the outdoor patio overlooks Cascade Falls, a 25-foot high waterfall in the heart of downtown.
Stay: Pleasant Lake Bed & Breakfast is a quiet, family-owned, country lake home framed in forest, offering visitors a peaceful retreat on a private deck or a place to gather and socialize at a fire ring overlooking tranquil Pleasant Lake. Three guest rooms with in-suite bathrooms are each decorated in a comfortable, homespun style with a glimpse of the family’s history.Yummy breakfasts are served up by inn keepers with long time roots in the area.
WINE, Chocolate & Cheese
4. ON THE WINE TRAIL
As the heat of summer subsides and the leaves on the trees dress for cooler weather, endless rows of grapes begin to ripen on the vine. It’s harvest time at the wineries. The St. Croix Valley is an up-and-coming wine region with four award-winning wineries surrounding Osceola. Each vineyard boasts its own unique events, live music and an incredible landscape.
Grape Stomps: In early September, the first grapes of the year come off the vine, ready to be juiced. And so, the wine making season kicks off, along with the shoes of vineyard guests as they trample and tromp, squishing the fruit with their bare feet. Grape stomp events are held annually at Chateau St. Croix, Wild Mountain Winery and Dancing Dragonfly.
Federweisser Festivals: While tavern owners are busy erecting biergartens in preparation for Oktoberfest, WineHaven and Chateau St. Croix set to work producing the young fall wines of Germany for their autumn festivals. Federweisser is made with early white grapes and served when it is just beginning to ferment, giving it sweet, yet refreshing properties. WineHaven also offers the red grape variety, Roter Rauscher.
Wine, Cheese & Chocolate: Quintessential Wisconsin cheese, regional fine chocolates, and locally made wines unite to treat your taste buds to delightful pairings that can only be found in the St. Croix Valley. All four of the area’s wineries (Dancing Dragonfly, Chateau St. Croix, WineHaven, and Wild Mountain) tender their versions of Cheese and Chocolate Weekend in mid-November to coincide with the opening of deer hunting season in Wisconsin, known to the locals as Hunting Widows’ Weekend. Here is link to the self guided wine & chocolate tour- http://www.myosceolachamber.org/romantic-get-aways.html
Eat: Make a reservation for a prix fixe fall feast in the St. Croix River Inn’s snug and elegant dining room overlooking the river valley. Seasonal, locally sourced, and organic fare headline the five-course meal for a true dining experience.
Stay: After a day of wine tastings and fine dining, relax at the St. Croix River Inn boutique hotel where comfort and sophistication are top priorities. Indulge in an in-suite massage and breakfast in bed. Try one of the inn’s package deals – Luxurious Spa, Bread & Cheese Banquet, Chocolate Dreams, Wine & Roses or Champagne & Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries – or create your own stay with customized pampering.
5. AUTUMN FOR ADVENTURERS
Paddle a Canyon of Color: The 7-mile stretch of the St. Croix River between Interstate Park and Osceola Landing is particularly captivating in the fall. The composition of trees that line the river create a medley of vibrant oranges, brilliant yellows and golds, rich, deep reds and lush greens. A leisurely paddle down the waterway leads you between basalt rock walls, past wooded floodplains, and through a kaleidoscope of colors. Fish are plentiful, and dozens of bird species, like eagles and herons, are a common sight. Riverwood Canoe in Osceola provides canoe and kayak rentals, life vests, shuttle service to and from the landings, and free parking, all included in the rental price.
Take a Fall Hike: Between the stifling heat of summer and the icy bite of winter lies the temperate conditions of autumn, an ideal time to hike. Three trailheads originate off Cascade Street, Osceola’s main road, each with distinctively breathtaking features. Eagle Bluff Trail follows switchbacks up the bluff face to an impressive, panoramic view of the valley below. Marked by a statue of Chief Osceola, Cascade Falls Trail descends 135 steps to the base of Cascade Falls where boardwalks alongside Osceola Creek lead to the St. Croix River. Simenstad Trail runs through woodlands cloaked in a blaze of warm tones and past the ruins of the 1867 Geiger Brewery. The Falls Bluff Loop contains all three trails and can be walked in 45 minutes.
Eat: Pop in to the Cascade BP’s deli counter (located at the hiking trailhead and near Osceola Landing) and enjoy a picnic at Gristmill Park overlooking the waterfalls. At dusk, the falls are lit with color-changing LED lights that reflect the season and simulate the light of a full moon.
Stay: Scope out a campsite on the St. Croix River and revel in the fall colors and cooler temperatures right from your home base. There are several primitive campsites accessible from the water and designated by a brown camping sign and metal fire ring.
Plan Your Trip to Osceola, WI
START PLANNING YOUR TRIP!
Leaf Watching Tours:
Fall Color Train Rides- MTM http://mtm.my-free.website/train-rides
Airplane Tours – Osceola Aerosport http://www.osceolaaero.com/
Riverboat Tours – Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours http://www.wildmountain.com/boats-home
Apple and Pumpkin Fun:
Pumpkin Express Train & Bash – Minnesota Transportation Museum http://transportationmuseum.org/
Pumpkin Patch at Pleasant Valley Orchard http://www.pleasantvalleyorchard.com/the-pumpkin-patch/
Neumann Farms https://www.facebook.com/NeumannFarms/
Shafer Corn Maze http://www.shafercornmaze.com/www.shafercornmaze.com/Home.html
Chateau St. Croix http://www.chateaustcroix.com/
Dancing Dragonfly https://www.dancingdragonflywinery.com/
Wild Mountain http://wildmountainwinery.com/index.html
Riverwood Canoe https://www.riverwoodcanoe.com/
Interstate Parks to Osceola Landing – St. Croix National Scenic Riverway https://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/8toosceola.htm
Hiking – Osceola Chamber of Commerce http://www.myosceolachamber.org/hiking.html
Places to Stay:
St. Croix River Inn http://stcroixriverinn.com/
River Valley Inn & Suites http://www.osceolarivervalleyinn.com/
Pleasant Lake Bed & Breakfast http://www.pleasantlake.com/
Riverboat Dinner Cruise – Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours https://www.wildmountain.com/summer-recreation/boat-tours
Tippy Canoes http://www.tippycanoes.com/home.html
Watershed Café http://www.thewatershedcafe.com/
St. Croix River Inn Dining http://stcroixriverinn.com/dinner-service/
More recommended restaurants http://www.myosceolachamber.org/dining.html
This article was produced by Linda Shober Designs and Images, a Marketing and Design firm located in the St. Croix Valley specializing in providing content, strategy, management, design, and creative for digital and traditional marketing projects.
“Individual who has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to advance the vitality and well-being of the community throughout the years.”
This year’s Cornerstone Award Winner could have received this honor years ago. Many of us have needed Scott Tinney’s tire expertise and automotive assistance over the years. He also has provided nearly 25 years of volunteer time to keeping the Osceola Fair running smoothly. Current President of the Osceola Fair Board, Scott and his team’s goal is to see the completion of a badly needed new fair building.
In addition to all his fair time, Scott participates in the St. Croix Valley Connection group, is a former president of the Osceola Snowgoers and is a former Osceola Lions Club member.
Scott joined the chamber a few years ago and finds it important to belong to help keep the town growing and active and also strive to keep people in the area.
Scott was born and raised in Osceola. He graduated from Osceola High School in 1982 and currently lives on his grandparent’s family farmland. He established Scott’s Tire in 1993. His customers have become family over the years. He enjoys picking up or dropping off people’s cars during his busy work day. He was awarded a Customer Service Award this year from the chamber as well. Scott himself says he can’t go anywhere without someone knowing him – it can often take him 2 hours just to go get milk!
Scott has fond memories of growing up in Osceola. He worked at Zorn Auto (where Mr. Deals is now), Charlie’s Standard Station (where Noah Insurance building sits) and the original Osceola Auto Body where he washed cars. He says the best part of the washing cars was when he had finished washing a car, his dad would take him for a pop at Cascade Bar. They would let the car run so the doors didn’t freeze shut.
We sincerely thank you, Scott, for your commitment to Osceola over the years. Thank you for so many happy years of memories at the Osceola Free Fair!
Business of the Year
“Nominees in this category will have conducted their business in such a way as to distinguish him or herself in an extraordinary way and to have made through his or her business a significant contribution to the community.”
RiverWood Canoes: Kevin Carlson, Joel Carlson, Andrew Carlson, Owners
This year’s Business of the Year winner is truly a lesson in local business collaboration.
The Carlson family LOVES canoeing. They all love it so much they decided to go into partnership and “launch” their canoe rental business in 2011. Beginning on July 4th weekend of that year, the guys agreed to transport ARC (Association Retreat Center) canoeing guests in exchange for use of the ARC’s minibus, trailer and 15 canoes.
They had canoes rented over that busy weekend but there were NO reservations on the schedule for the following two weeks. They were doing Facebook ads, signage on Hwy 243, and canoes were stored at Kevin’s home, very visible to passing traffic. They needed to get more exposure. They decided to offer a Groupon ad for three days over the July 4th weekend and immediately sold out their available rentals for the rest of that summer. This campaign instantly put them on the digital map and suddenly they had customers – many who would return many times and tell their friends about their experience.
They had another great idea: take a picture of every guest as they come off the river and post it on Riverwood’s Facebook wall the same day. It was an incredible success. Lots of posts and people talking about this fantastic St. Croix River experience. Riverwood continues to offer this to their guests and the guests love it.
2012 offered another business partnership: Andrew began working at St. Croix River Inn. The inn’s owner, Ben Bruno wanted to offer a canoe rental package to his guests. Andrew would accommodate the inn’s guests in exchange for using the inn as Riverwood’s headquarters. Now the guys had a physical location with high visibility for their business. Plus, it’s a great amenity for the inn’s guests.
More connections: Riverwood plans Bending Branches’ company picnic and canoe outing each year in exchange for canoe paddles. Lucky Panda and Brickfire Pizza partner with Riverwood for coupons for good food and canoes. Riverwood needs to work closely and be accredited with both the National Park and Interstate Park. The parks are cared for and want more people to use them; Riverwood is here to help make that happen.
Their growth has been steady: they went from 15 canoes in 2011 to a total of 100 boats (15 tandem kayaks, 45 solo kayaks, 5 stand up paddle boards and 35 canoes) in 2017.
They expect 5,000 visitors from May-October. Weekends sell out but there is lots of room to grow the business during weekdays. Their rentals are also river condition dependent – flooding or even closing the river like last year. Riverwood caters to the fun, casual day-tripper.
The three partners each has their own idea of how to grow the business: Andrew wants to increase their tandem kayak rentals (no one else offers that in our area); Joel wants to expand trip options (they would then need more workers) and Kevin is eager to organize and promote overnight camping along the river.
Says Andrew, “I love the simplicity of this business. It’s a great river and we at Riverwood Canoe get to have a good time helping other people have a good time. It doesn’t feel like hard work at all.”
Andrew truly has the community spirit to support Osceola’s businesses and planned growth. He has stepped up into a leadership role for the Chamber as the new Tourism Committee Chair. We appreciate Andrew!
Stay tuned! Riverwood Canoe & Kayak will continue to be a business to watch.
Non-Profit of the Year Award
"Organization that has shown outstanding support to the Greater Osceola area through contributions and support of the community."
In 1991, new Osceola resident Roseanne Anderson organized a gift program called Blessing Baskets that helped needy families have food and gifts during the Christmas season.
Roseanne quickly realized that there were hungry people around Osceola all year long so in 1993 a group of concerned citizens started the Open Cupboard. Open Cupboard, also known as our Osceola area food shelf began operation in a small area behind Dr. Harry Beck’s optometry office on 3rd Ave in February of that year. There were obstacles to overcome – the largest being the belief from residents that there was no need for a food shelf in our town. Roseanne knew better however. In 1997, the food shelf was forced to relocate. Osceola Lumber Yard owner Wendell Viebrock allowed the food shelf to operate rent-free out of his building for the next 18 years. When the building sold in 2015 to begin the expansion of Dick’s, Wendell donated the necessary property (near previous building location) and donations from three community members provided the funding to build a new building. Open Cupboard began operation in their beautiful new structure (which has been designed for their use) in 2016.
Roseanne is the face of Open Cupboard but she is the first to admit that she could not have done what she has been able to do without her volunteers. There have been many key people over the years with the present volunteer count at eight (besides Roseanne).
Their mission statement reads: “To provide the community with guidance and supportive services with those in need including food, clothing, household items, school supplies, winter gear, financial aid for rent and utilities and other needed essentials.”
Roseanne is quoted as saying, “Without community this wouldn’t be here. What we have no other food shelf has and that’s because of this community.”
Many thanks to Open Cupboard’s past and present volunteers:
Sue Dougherty Sherry Williams Rhonda Haley Kathy Monroe
Anne Hennessy Char Bottolfson Norma Fish Myrna Bucki
Bev Medvec Fran Griffin Judy Weiss Sherry Hanson
Karen Wynveen Mary Clare Huberty Rosanne Anderson
Community Partner of the Year
"An Osceola Area Chamber business or organization that demonstrates excellence in collaboration to improve the economic vitality of the community through leadership, sponsorships, volunteerism, and partnering with other organizations and/or businesses."
Royal Credit Union – Osceola Branch
Royal Credit Union's core purpose is to create a positive impact in the lives they touch. Founded in 1964 to serve just 100 employees of Uniroyal Tire Plant in Eau Claire, WI, Royal has grown to more than 160,000 Members across WI and MN. They are driven to do the right thing for their Members and make a difference in their lives. As one example, they have eliminated 69 fees and saved Members over $15.3 million in the last few years. Royal is also a certified Community Development Financial Institution, working to improve our local economies and Members’ lives by providing greater access to financial services—like home and auto loans—and financial education. Through their foundation, they are committed to support organizations and initiatives in communities where Royal operates and have awarded over $2.3 million. The foundation recently made grants to two significant Osceola projects: Osceola Discovery Center and Royal Credit Union Sport Court at Osceola Medical Center.
The Chamber wants to take the opportunity to thank RCU for encouraging their employees over the years to be so engaged in the Chamber. Sherry Soderquist, Joe Johnston, Pam Talmadge and Shannon Jacobson (to name a few) come to mind. Thank you RCU and your valuable employees!
Rising Star Business of the Year
"Relatively new "up and coming" small businesses with a unique blend of vision, energy and skill. It is for ventures who have had a strong start with the potential for growing into a prosperous enterprise and have demonstrated a strong contribution to the future of the community."
Uptown Gifts – Donna Carpenter, Owner
Since moving to Osceola over 17 years ago, Donna has grown to really love Osceola and its wonderful people.
Donna owns and operates Uptown Gifts. She focuses on gifts, home décor and now clothing, Donna’s vision for opening Uptown Gifts was to create a unique and uplifting place to visit that would be an asset to the community. Uptown Gifts recently moved and she shares a space along with Expressions Coffeehouse. Donna has taken the new model of business- combining retail and a place to gather and creatively added a new dimension to Osceola’s downtown vibrancy. Donna has also stepped up to a leadership role in the Chamber by co-leading the Retail Team along with Gwen Minnick Wright. Donna looks forward to being a part of Osceola’s bright future. Thank you, Donna!
Excellence in Customer Service Award
"An individual or business with outstanding customer service based on -first impressions, attitude, helpfulness, excelling above and beyond service expectations and promoting other businesses in the area."
Accepting award: Cindy and family
Cindy and her family have grown up in the restaurant industry. She moved to the United States from China seventeen years ago, with her dad who currently owns and operates a restaurant in New York. Cindy has worked in restaurants in Florida, South Caroline and Delaware. In 2009, a friend of Cindy’s convinced the family to move to Osceola and purchase his established restaurant, Lucky Panda. Cindy and her husband, Danny and their two daughters can be found working at the restaurant nearly every day. Always friendly and greeting you with a smile, Cindy and her whole family’s customer service is of the highest level. Cindy gets to know her customers and you can often see her sitting with one of her customers that may be eating alone or is new to the community.
Cindy said Osceola reminds her of her own small village in China. She said the people are really nice here. We are so pleased to honor your business, Panda King with this year’s Excellence in Customer Service. Many thanks for taking such good care of us, Zheng family!
Building of the Year
“Nominees in this category will be the physical building that house successful businesses. The criteria in this category will be new construction as well as buildings which have undergone remodeling or refurbishment in 2016 to the extent that the building becomes an attribute to the community.”
The RiverGroup Financial Advisors (First Baptist Church of Osceola)
Accepting Jeanine Sandberg
The First Baptist Church of Osceola, Harry Wild Jones, architect, was built in 1910 and continued as the Baptists’ place of worship until 2006. At that time, Glyn and Cindy Thorman purchased the building and utilized the building as an event center and retail/small office space. Under their ownership, Thormans did extensive work to preserve the building, known then as Cornerstone Square.
The RiverGroup Financial Advisors purchased the building in 2016 and began extensive renovations. Work included architectural design work; demolition, support and renovation to the original structures; construction of six internal offices, conference room, bathroom, work room and kitchen prep space; restoration of the original woodwork, stucco repair, new ceilings and furnishings and exterior repair to the original stone and masonry work, repair of the bell tower and new paint, shingles and landscaping. Original stained glass windows were repurposed as decorative elements. The beautifully designed interior woodwork and attention to craftsmanship detail makes this building truly an Osceola showcase of renovation and pride in our architectural history.