Wes Studdard

 As Chair of the Chamber Board this year, I was looking forward to the in-person ribbon cutting ceremonies for new businesses as they introduce and launch their organizations into our community. The Chamber Blue Coats do a fabulous job of surrounding the nervous new proprietors with the support and encouragement that is a signature of the New Braunfels Chamber. Serving as Master of Ceremonies, I introduce officials, provide a brief history of the industry, followed by some related humor, and then introduce the new business. All was fine until March, and then the pandemic brought a halt to group gatherings. Previous Chairs of the Board have boasted about their record number of ribbon cuttings. Well, I too will have a record, a record of the fewest ribbon cuttings in the second quarter of 2020 (zero).

Just as the Chamber is great at ribbon cuttings, the Chamber also excels at recognizing individuals in the community that make New Braunfels a special place to live. And fortunately, the pandemic will not stop us from having the honor to present these awards in 2020.

The Chamber awards program is divided into three categories. Chair of the Board Awards, Hall of Honor Awards, and the Besserung Award.

The Chair of the Board Award dates back to 1966 and honors those individuals who have made a significant contribution in a specific field of civic endeavor. Recipient selection is made by the Executive Committee of the Chamber Board of Directors. No more than six recipients may be named in a year. They are presented a letter by the Chair of the Board at a regular Board meeting and then presented a plaque at the annual banquet. So far this year, Dustin Seidel has been recognized for his contribution to the 175th IH-35 Gateway Monument Signs in the field of community heritage and Mayor Barron Casteel in the field of effective governance for his leadership during the onset of the pandemic.

The Hall of Honor Award started in 1968 and is for individuals, 50 years or older, that have participated in civic activities over many years. A maximum of three recipients may be named in a year. They are named at the December Board meeting, presented a framed certificate at the annual banquet and their photograph is on permanent exhibit in Honors Hall.

The Besserung Award (Community Betterment) is the oldest of the volunteer recognition awards dating back to 1964. It is often referred to as the outstanding citizen’s award for New Braunfels and is presented to an individual who is currently providing a significant contribution to the community through civic activities.  The selection committee for both the Hall of Honor and the Besserung Awards are comprised of six members serving six year staggered terms with a new member appointed annually. The Besserung recipient’s name remains secret until the Chair of the Board presents the honor at the annual banquet. And, past Chamber Chairs tell me they do not even know until they open that envelope!

As we pass the halfway point in this pandemic year, rest assured your Chamber board and staff remains committed to promoting civic progress and recognizing the volunteers that make New Braunfels the best place to live, work and play.

Wes Studdard
2020 Chamber Chair of the Board