The Belton Area Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Awards Banquet to honor individuals and businesses for their leadership and investment in the community. The theme for the banquet was “Better Together” – celebrating partnerships, honoring servant leaders and organizations, and recognizing the value of investing in our community together.

   Randy Pittenger, Chamber President/CEO said, “We were thrilled to honor some of our most valued servant leaders in our community at our awards banquet. This annual tradition of honoring and thanking those who step up and go the extra mile is important for our community.”Joe Shepperd received the 2023 Beltonian Award, given annually in recognition of longtime achievement in volunteer service to the Belton community. Shepperd is not only a well-respected and successful businessman, but has also served our community in multiple ways, including on the Belton ISD School Board and Belton Economic Development Corporation Board. Shepperd and his wife, Pam, are examples of community servants who invest in and give back to the community.

   Terri Covington received the 2023 Citizen of the Year award, given to the person who made a significant volunteer contribution to the Belton community through Chamber related activities during the previous year. Covington is a long-time servant leader in the area, including serving on numerous boards and advisory committees, as well as the Chamber Board of Directors. She leads by example and is actively involved with the Chamber and community, providing a great model of what it means to be a community servant leader.

   Meredith Duke received the 2023 Ambassador of the Year award, a peer recognition award for the Ambassador who stands out as an example of exemplary service. Duke is an Associate Broker for Duke Realty, and has been actively involved throughout the year with Chamber activities and in support of non-profit organizations.

   The banquet also included special recognition for two respected servant leaders in the community. Gene Ellis, longtime Belton Chief of Police and Assistant City Manager will be retiring soon so was given the Servant Guardian Leadership award in appreciation for his service and commitment to developing a culture of servant leadership and customer service.

   Tim Stephens, recently retired after 30 years as Executive Director for the Cadence Bank Center (formerly known as the Bell County Expo). Under his leadership, our community benefitted from immeasurable impact from both an economic and quality of life perspective. Stephens was awarded the Legendary Impact award.

   TRU-Belton and Railway Express Diner were named the 2023 Businesses of the Year, given to businesses that have made a significant contribution to
the community during the
previous year. Both businesses consistently demonstrate exceptional customer service and an investment in the community. Their efforts to support the community through specific service activities were identified as role models of making a difference in our community.

   A special Community Economic Impact award was given to MK&T Holdings, LLC for their work in developing the Belton MK&T Depot and Katy, with 10 new locally owned and operated businesses opening in 2023 in the iconic downtown Belton development. Matt Gunter, Ryan Hodge, Luke Potts, and Terry Potts were recognized for their investment in developing economic growth and quality of life in the community.

   Community Partner Awards were given in recognition of those who have had a significant impact on our community through partnership with the Chamber. Those recognized included Spencer Ridgway with ASCO-Belton and Pastor Jeff Miller representing Belton First United Methodist Church. Both represent a willingness to partner with the Chamber and City of Belton to meet the needs of our community, using their resources to support important events and programs.

   For more information about the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce, go to or contact the Chamber at or 254-939-3551