The Scottsbluff-Gering United Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet Thursday night and announced the winners of their three community service awards.
First State Bank President Mike Downey is the winner of the Chamber’s Trailblazer award. A native of Scottsbluff, Downey graduated from SHS, WNCC and Fort Hays State before working in Hitchcock, Texas for a group of independently owned banks for almost seven years.
Downey then brought his family back to the Valley and has been employed with First State Bank for nearly 30 years. He coached his four children in soccer, football, baseball and basketball and is currently a board member for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Cirrus House, Rotary, and Regional West Foundation.
In the past he has served on the board and held the president position for United Way, the Chamber, and Riverside Soccer Association. He was also instrumental in the Landers Soccer Complex and served as a Legislative Committee member for the Nebraska Independent Banker’s Association.
The Chamber’s Visionary Superstar is Judy Amoo, who served 13 years as Dean of Economic & Community Development At Western Nebraska Community College. A native of Scottsbluff, Amoo graduated from what was then Nebraska Western College with an emphasis on corrections and served in several prison, vocational and other leadership positions in California, Arizona and Philadelphia before coming back to the Valley.
Amoo served on several local Boards of Directors including Nebraska Entrepreneurship Task Force, Legacy of the Plains Museum, Panhandle Business & Professional Women, Workforce Investment Board, Panhandle Community Services and the Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber. She served as Chamber Board Chair in 2014.
She is certified in Gallup Strengths Finder, and recently won an award on the national level for Chamber Innovation with Growth Zone. Panhandle Business & Professional Women named her Woman of the Year in 2010. She recently received a state Outstanding Service Award from Nebraska Entrepreneurship.
The Chamber’s Rising Star is Melissa Schneider, who along with her husband Chad has owned Sam and Louie’s restaurant since 2013.
Melissa was raised in Mitchell and graduated from the UNL with a degree in journalism. After being employed as a Communications Director for several firms in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Colorado, she came back to the North Platte Valley.
Chad and Melissa’s successful restaurant donates to the United Way of Western Nebraska annually and has convinced Sam and Louise’s restaurants in Alliance and Sidney to do the same. Schneider is active with the Scottsbluff YMCA, the Historic Saddle Club, Scotts Bluff Ag Society, Panhandle BPW and the Downtown Scottsbluff Association.