A longtime Keene businessman, a bakery owner, seven educators and a local bank were among those honored at the 30th annual Keene Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Banquet Oct. 26 at the Keene Community Center.The event, which recognizes local businesses and educators, was attended by 288 people who enjoyed a meal prepared by Olive Garden Burleson and a musical trip down memory lane with Elvis Presley tribute artist Kraig Parker. Keene resident Richard Bothe, owner of General Insurance Service, was honored as Citizen of the Year.Other honorees included: • Community Improvement Award: Southwestern Adventist University Grounds Department• Community Service Award: Pinnacle Bank• Young Entrepreneur Award: Eileen Ortiz of Secret Spot Bakery
The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has been a model citizen and given dedicated and extensive service to individuals, organizations and the community on a continued basis.Born in Oklahoma, Bothe arrived in Keene as a 9-year-old moving into a house on Fourth Street that still stands today. He attended Chisholm Trail Academy when it was located in white frame buildings that no longer exist.His father had started an insurance business in Dallas and brought that business to Keene, which Bothe purchased 32 years ago. Bothe’s community service is lengthy, including as a charter member of the Type A Economic Development board, service on the Keene Chamber board, and currently serving his fifth year on the Keene ISD school board. In addition, Bothe’s business, General Insurance Service, gives its financial resources, supporting every cause in Keene including Pathfinders, Starfest, school sports booster clubs, National Night Out, special projects at the Keene Church and schools, and every Chamber event including two parades, the fireworks show, golf tournament, Business Expo, and annual banquet.
The Community Improvement Award honors businesses for contributing to the beautification of the city through new buildings and/or well-manicured grounds and landscaping, thus presenting a positive image and improving the quality of life in Keene.The Southwestern Adventist University grounds department is this year’s honoree. The department maintains 143 acres of prime Keene real estate, from wooded walking and biking trails, to a disk golf course, a private park with an iconic pond, and grounds that are the first impression to all visitors.
The Community Service Award is given to an individual and/or organization who has given extensive and continued service to the community.This year’s honoree, Pinnacle Bank, encourages its employees to get involved in the local community, and they have: with a former branch president serving as the first president of the Keene Chamber and always having a representative on the Chamber board for 30 years. Bank personnel take the lead on committees that plan the annual Starfest and July 4 Celebration; it offers its well-appointed board room for local organizations and its parking lot for car shows, parade staging, car washes; and staging for U.S. flag display and storage. The bank financially supports everything from the annual Chamber banquet to having its name on every school gymnasium scoreboard in the city. 
The Educator of the Year Award honors one who demonstrates excellence in the classroom and goes the extra mile by being involved in the lives of students outside the classroom. This award is selected by campus educators and administrators. One educator from each of the four public schools and one from the each of the four private schools are honored each year. The award is accompanied by a cash honorarium of $100. The 2023 honorees are:Keene Adventist Elementary School, Nu ZabalaKeene Adventist Junior High School, Sadie Kennedy Chisholm Trail Academy, Rosa BrionesSouthwestern Adventist University, Dr. Devon HowardKeene Elementary School, Lauren TomlinsonSummit Leadership Academy, Courtney KittrellKeene Junior High School, Jeanne Hinerman
The Young Entrepreneur Award is presented to a young business person who has made a commitment to Keene.Eileen Ortiz attended high school in Puerto Rico and graduated from SWAU with a degree in biology. She taught grades three, four, and five at Keene ISD, but longed to own a bakery as her father did in Puerto Rico, teaching her to make everything from scratch. When space became available, her father helped her start Secret Spot Bakery in Keene, and then gave it to her. 
The Phillip Sparks Helping Hands Award was presented to Yddo Ortiz for myriad acts of goodwill in which he is involved, always behind the scenes. Ortiz uses his pickup to deliver food and furniture to needy families, many times paying for the items out of his own pocket.

In the photo above, Keene businessman Richard Bothe (right), named Citizen of the Year by the Keene Chamber of Commerce, receives his plaque from Jerry Becker, who received the honor last year. The presentation was made Oct. 26 at the 30th annual Keene Chamber of Commerce Community Awards banquet at Keene Community Center.  Photo by CARI WARWICK