The Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the recipients of the organization’s annual Citizen and Volunteer of the Year awards, as well as a brand-new award dedicated to young professionals.

The chamber named Neil Horton as the 2020 Lud Fiser Citizen of the Year during its annual meeting Friday. Horton served as chair of the Advance MHK initiative that helped secure support to pass a citywide economic development sales tax in November.

During the meeting, Horton said being named the recipient of this award came as “quite a shock.”

“Community involvement is not hard in Manhattan, because it’s a great place,” Horton said. “You want to get involved; there’s so many opportunities. … It doesn’t really matter what your interests are, there’s somebody out there who’s working to serve that interest.”

Horton, the vice-president and CEO of Bayer Construction in Manhattan, is the 52nd recipient of the award and was recognized for his work on several initiatives over the past year, including his service on the business advocacy committee and economic development committee.

The citizen of the year award is named after former Manhattan Chamber president Lud Fiser, who served from 1948 to 1975, and was a key player in community developments such as CiCo Park and Manhattan Industrial Park.

The C. Clyde Jones Volunteer of the Year award went to Lucy Williams for her lengthy service to the chamber’s business advocacy committee and the public affairs committee which came before it. Larie Schoap, 2020 Chamber of Commerce Chair, said Williams “has been instrumental in helping to shape the Chamber’s public policies for a number of years.”

Williams watched a livestream of the meeting from her home, but during the meeting, chamber officials played a video where she was surprised with the award. Williams is a finance professional, and currently the vice-president and trust officer of The Trust Company in Manhattan.

She is the 32nd recipient of the C. Clyde Jones Volunteer of the Year award, named after a 60-year Manhattan resident who served as the first dean of Kansas State University’s College of Business.

For the first time, the Chamber also recognized the Young Professional of the Year, giving the award to Jeff Sackrider. Schoap said Sackrider, a customer sales consultant with communications firm WTC, “actively pursues new sales opportunities, assists current clients, and represents WTC at Manhattan Chamber and other community events.”

Sackrider said he “got ambushed” at his office two weeks ago when he found out he won this award, and that he has never been more surprised in his entire life.

“The things I’m being acknowledged for … are things I saw (my parents) do all my life, and that’s just being actively engaged in the community,” Sackrider said. “I’m so proud that I get to be part of this community and give back.”

WTC provides voice, internet, and video service to Wamego, Manhattan and surrounding areas.

Schoap said Sackrider has been part of a team effort resulting in more than 800 new business clients to the company’s fiber optic network.