Genoa Chamber surprises retiring police chief, highlights businesses at 67th Annual Awards Dinner

S & A Maintenance Services Inc. wins Excellence in Business Award

Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Krissy Johnson and Genoa Chief of Police Robert Smith, the 2024 David Tobinson award winner, stand together after the 2024 Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and award banquet on Feb. 21, 2024.

GENOA – Multiple people turned up in handcuffs this week at the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce’s 67th Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner.

No, they weren’t arrested – instead, they poked gentle fun at police Chief Robert Smith, who announced Wednesday while accepting a surprise award that he plans to retire this year.

Smith was given the David Tobinson award, the Chamber’s highest individual honor. Genoa’s top cop said he didn’t see it coming, but revealed after 29 years he’ll be retiring from the Genoa Police Department this summer.

”I was not expecting this. It’s been a good ride,” Smith said. “I didn’t have anything prepared because I wasn’t expecting this. You got me. You got me. I want to thank my wife, Kim, you know all of the holidays and weekends I used to have to work – now we’re on the slide down.”

Carolyn Tobinson, – daughter of the award’s namesake who was surprised as the winner in 2023 – announced Smith as the 2024 recipient. She said individuals have to be special to the Genoa community to win the award, and that Smith is a fitting winner.

“Visible around town in numerous functions and events, this person has been a reassuring presence everywhere, particularly on daily strolls through the downtown area and visiting with various people encountered. Chief Smith, you are deserving of this award,” Tobinson said.

Genoa Police Chief Robert Smith helps Jennifer Groce and Michaela Menzies, who was elected president of the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors during the annual dinner on Feb. 21, 2024, out of toy handcuffs as they present.

Smith received a standing ovation from approximately 250 attendees, the most the event has ever hosted, Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Krissy Johnson said.

He wasn’t the only winner, however.

Dave “Neighbor” Kirkby, who was unable to attend the festivities, received the Chamber Community Pride award.

Jennifer Groce, master of ceremonies, accepted the award on his behalf.

“What would ‘Neighbor’ Dave say? We probably shouldn’t repeat that. But ‘Neighbor’ Dave is a perfectly good name because, well, he is the neighbor you always want, need, appreciate and love. So Dave, thank you so much, we appreciate you, and we can’t wait to see you at your next volunteer opportunity,” Groce said.

The ambassador of the year award, given to a Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce ambassador with outstanding performance, went to Carol Romano.

“Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure, believe me,” Romano said.

Northern Rehab Physical Therapy was bestowed the Spirit of Genoa Area Chamber Award.

Physical Therapist Melissa Payne Wagner, a Genoa High School graduate who has been with Northern Rehab Physical Therapy’s office in Genoa since it opened in 2005, said she and her coworkers appreciate the support they’ve received from the community over nearly two decades.

“There’s lots of familiar faces out in the crowd tonight, and we couldn’t be where we are today without all of your local support. It’ll be 20 years next year that we opened this clinic in Genoa and we’re just honored to be part of it. Thank you,” Wagner said.

S & A Maintenance Services Inc., owned and operated by a multi-generation Genoa family, was given the Chamber’s Excellence in Business Award.

Dave Quenett started the construction business in 1998, but today his sons Steve Quenett and Andrew Quenett own and run the business.

“Thank you everybody. This is a very special award for us. We’ve been at this for quite awhile and been here in Genoa for our entire lives,” Steve Qunett said.

Gospel Life Bible Church won the Chamber’s award designated for local nonprofits.

“I want to say, wow, look at God go,” said pastor Eric Groce. “I have to tell you what makes this so amazing, very simply is that back in 2017 Gospel Life Bible Church was nothing more than a thought. I had no people, no money, no resources, but I saw Genoa and I saw the need for a Jesus preaching, bible teaching, community reaching body of believers, and the Lord worked.”

Eric Groce, with Gospel Life Bible Church, smiles as he approaches the podium after his church was announced as the winner of the 2024 nonprofit award on Feb. 21, 2024.
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