Joe Castilleja was announced as the recipient of the annual Besserung Award Friday evening at the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce’s Centennial Banquet & Awards Program. The award is often referred to as the New Braunfels outstanding citizen’s award and is designed to honor an individual who is currently providing a significant contribution to the community through their civic activities.
More than 800 community and business leaders were in attendance at the banquet to hear the announcement. The name of the winner was kept as a secret until the moment of the presentation. This honor recognizes the community betterment activities of the recipient. Born and raised in New Braunfels, Castilleja tirelessly shown his love for New Braunfels through his many contributions to the community.
Castilleja knows the importance of athletics, especially for the community’s kids and grandkids. Not only did he serve on the city committee that designed the city’s first new recreation center in 70 years, he also came up with the name, Das Rec. He also remembers the great education he received from New Braunfels ISD and works to pay it forward every chance he gets. Castilleja served on the district’s facilities committee which led to the bond issue being called. He then led the political action committee to ensure its passage.
Though each of these things carry a heavy weight to the many accomplishments of Castilleja in 2018, he was not done yet. He found the time to step in and take on the city’s first Hispanic Mural project, chairing the committee, selecting the artist, and raising the funds to pay for it. The Chamber and the community are tremendously thankful Castilleja calls New Braunfels home.
The announcement of the Besserung Award winner capped off the evening, but prior to that the banquet program included the premiere of an original production highlighting the Chamber’s 100 year history and its impact on the community, several award recognitions, and the ceremonial passing of the gavel from Outgoing Chair Robin Jeffers of J & R Gymnastics, to the 2019 Chair of the Board Shane Wolf of Rockin ‘R’ River Rides.
The award recognitions included the Chamber’s Blue Coat Ambassador program recognizing their new Senior Blue Coats and Blue Coats of 2018 and announcing award winners Art Brinkkoeter as the Blue Coat of the Year and Helgard Suhr-Hollis as the Senior Blue Coat of the Year.
Chair of the Board Award winners and Honors Hall inductees were recognized next. The Chair of the Board Award honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the community in a specific field of civic endeavor. No more than six recipients may be named in a calendar year. The 2018 Chair of the Board Award winners were Donna Eccleston, Stephen Hanz, Dr. Melissa Miskell, Ron Reaves, Pastor Ray Still and April Weilbacher.
The Hall of Honor Award recognizes individuals who have participated in civic activities over many years and are at least 50 years of age. A maximum of three recipients may be named in a calendar year and their photograph will be included as a permanent exhibit at the Chamber in Honors Hall. The 2018 Hall of Honor inductees were Arlon Hermes, Betty Kyle and Anne Miller.